Dry by Katharine Sargent


Porcelain inkwell, given to me
the writer, for my birthday.
Aunt Annie, divorced, fearful,
shedding all she could not carry.
She said, “for inspiration.”

A china bulb set upon a flowered dish,
according to the precise year pressed
upon the bottom, like my father’s
puckered pocket watch, it has seen
times far more civilized; like sugar
spoons and monogrammed warming pans.

A bit of forgotten ink is cemented
to the bottom of the well. A thin
blotting, a place where confident
pens had scratched. Enough for one
last word, a dash, a question mark.
I have no feather quill.

On the inkwell’s side there is a rendering,
a windmill on a far shore, the blades
are still, do not spin in the coastal breezes.
Imagine the farmer waiting for the wind
to start. Imagine his fear, the churning
doubt that fields will not yield. Imagine
his feverish wish for blustery days.

by Katharine Sargent, first appeared in Frost Writing.

Editor’s Note: The last four lines move this poem from mere description into the suggestion of more—what is inspiration? What is writing? The farmer knows.

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