Treasure Island

Diane Hine

(25 July 1956)

Spaniels


Once, in a fit of candour I told Mum how much
I disliked her Staffordshire pottery spaniels;
their vacuous eyes, lopsided shoulders, amorphous
leg-body-tails, slap-dash two-tone glaze and
the absence of any chemistry between them.
Years later, tossing out clutter preparatory to
moving house, Mum said she remembered how
fond I was of her Staffordshire pottery spaniels
and how lucky we were to have a matching pair
and she promised to keep them for me.

True to her word, they're mine now and I've been
trying develop a rapport, though clouds and inkblots
have more personality than they do.
They're fakes of course; I did some research, but
even the genuine ones are unattractive. Mine were
probably painted by underpaid Chinese children,
an authentic touch since the originals were often
painted by underpaid 19th century English children.

Their form has been designed purely to deceive,
eastern ingenuity taking advantage of western
elitism. I like that!
They never look dismayed when I leave for work
or pleased to see me when I come home again.
They're not needy, make no demands on me, pull
no heartstrings. I like that!
They fulfil the function of being ornaments, so that
if relatives visit, they don't think my home is deficient
in ornaments. I like that!
I don't need to insure them. I like that!
You can see how well I'm doing; four good reasons
to like them already. I really want to like them
because I'm never going to give them away.

Submitted: Friday, August 01, 2014

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Topic(s): memories

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Comments about this poem (Spaniels by Diane Hine )

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  • Daniel Brick (8/10/2014 8:39:00 PM)

    This is a wonderful poem of honesty, candor and ironies. And it's all so carefully paced by you that it never tips over on itself. I appreciate the fine control of language you display. The four I LIKE THAT statements saved for the final stanza are wonderfully witty. We all have inherited things we don't know what to do with or how to dispose of.
    You're touching a raw nerve with gracious humor (so it doesn't hurt) . In my family it's a collection called DICKENS VILLAGE. And it's just as much of an issues as your SPANIELS. But we always have to put family
    love over artistic integrity. That's a no brainer. (Report) Reply

  • Thomas A Robinson (8/6/2014 4:43:00 AM)

    You know where your going with this. Your mother was the center of your life for so long. She being the center of the wheel and you now have radiated out away from that center but still connected to that center by the spokes of the wheel. The spaniels are just one of the many spokes of that wheel that keep your world revolving around that center. (Report) Reply

  • Valsa George (8/4/2014 11:08:00 AM)

    They are to be kept and treasured whether you like them or not, being fondly presented by your mother! Besides they won't dirty your carpets with their fur or dirty the floor with the swing of their drooping long ears after getting wet! Interesting! (Report) Reply

  • Captain Cur (8/2/2014 6:57:00 AM)

    The Spaniels Are Coming look out.
    I hear they are unbreakable.
    Once you write about something
    you tend to like it, no matter how
    untenable it appeared in the beginning. (Report) Reply

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