Materials Science - Poem by Diane Hine
I remember a good restaurant I
used to frequent back in the Seventies.
I’d fill the sink with water as hot as
my rubber-gloved hands could stand and wash stuff
in batches; crockery and cutlery,
saucepans, ramekins, skillets, roasting pans;
but always glassware first before oil or
butter sullied the suds. I’ve forgotten
the names and faces of chefs and waiters
but I still remember the wine glasses
because some (quite a few) did not survive
the wash. I found incriminating cracks
when I towelled them dry. I tried slowing down.
I no longer tossed them in, but laid them
in tenderly. Inexplicably, the
breakage rate increased, as did my concern
since my kitchen hand career was at stake.
I started afresh with a refilled sink.
My gloves slicked a glass in a pre-wash check
for flaws. I lowered it towards the suds.
A soap bubble puckered to kiss a drop
of wine through the wet bowl. The bubble’s lip
stretched as the glass slipped in. Pressing deeper,
I met slight resistance before water
found the rim and slid inside to mingle
with the wine. Chink! A tiny plaintive note
lost in the discordant kitchen clatter
was caught by my youthful ears and conveyed
to my youthful brain where it found a chink
between the disordered cells; amorphous
like soft grey glass. I raised the glass. A piece
was missing. My left hand retrieved it. The
raw edge traced an invisible stress line,
dune-curved and spurred; the signature of a
noncrystalline form, or an eddy of
glassblower’s breath. Chink! The wineglass might have
survived a plunge, but not the hot and cold
contrast of partial immersion. So I
remember the sound; as if a sand grain
sang its release from vitrified service.
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