Petal Journal

Maggie Burton

Margaret, the objects in this house

i. I am the saucer

who watched for years during morning tea
as she scratched off the first few letters
of her morning Crossword
dirty words on the linen.

She kept pennies scattered around the table
for this purpose, covered in blood,
flour, dish soap residue –
the fingerprints of everyone’s women –
heavy with gunk regardless of minting date
1963 Young Elizabeth with the bow in her hair or 2012 Old

Queen. Her hand stirs the Carnation milk
eavesdropping on a perpetual
back and forth between the
spoon and the inside of the teacup.

You hammered open this tin of milk years ago
after the can­opener flew out your one free
hand past his head
past your after­supper teas
out the open window
into the ocean he had just returned from
three months gone in summer
the one time you discussed the fresh
swell of your love child with him.

Sugar ducks into the browned water
I wish I could see it touch the bottom
swimming, half visible
sheers flapping out the kitchen window.

ii. I am the goat skin rug

her fourth baby girl was born on
  while she was kneading the Monday bread
she hardly had time to squat into position
dough caked between her fingers
stuck to her nails.

I watched as she crowned too fast
fell out six weeks early
her unfused skull saved as she kissed my soft fur
blessing her forever with the omnivore’s enjoyment of life
of all its textures.

Margaret hid me away before
her children were old enough to know the difference
between interesting origin prose
and a story of rural birthing gone awry.

My soliloquy:
sodden with the after­birth
cut short and fast while the cord was still singing
by the clean hospital births of the rest of her brood.

iii. I am the teaspoon

that he glued to his wife while she was squeezing the last drop
of tea out of the bag one morning
so as not to waste it.

He glued me to her hand
to fend off the temptations of her sex
after the last of her youngsters moved out.

She lives in fear of ripping it off
her fingerprints coming off with the handle
how would they match her to herself when she is dead without them?

iv. We hear the ghost

He has been gone for some time now but not long enough to quit
dancing a love song at the foot of her bed while she pretends to sleep –

a kinky party for two old lovers off smokes and whisky.
Sometimes we hear her say
you are just a ghost.

No matter how many times she asks him to leave, please
the ghost still has to finish on her face first.

Margaret, know that we do our best.

We do our best as objects
in this house.

v. Margaret scratches the Crossword (in perpetuity)

D, G, now, and I’ll almost have a free one.
How hard is it to give me a bloody G you selfish lotto assholes.
I’ve given half my checks to you for nothing
more than a scatter free one.
Thank Jesus for the bonus letters –
Shag this today.
They send all the winners to the mainland.

Maggie Burton is a violinist and writer from Brigus, Newfoundland. She completed a Bachelor of Music degree at Memorial University in 2013 where she specialized in music history and literature.