High Culture

Her fake majolica
brimming with moral fables
(the pelican of piety,
a lion ponderously tangled
in “Ave Maria”’s

golden script, the lambs
with their crosscut vexilla)
make a gradual conquista
of tabletops and shelves. Reverted
years ago to a faith

that loves a hoarder, she
buys ersatz antiquities
as if preponderance breeds grace,
props them on display stands—serving plates,
carafes, and bowls staggered

like mosaicked peacocks
with antimony eyespots—
enshrines them like they’re bona fide,
not mailed from SoCal Renaissance fairs
in crates lined with the Times,

as were her icon bread
stamps, her “German” cookie molds
depicting the Crucifixion
(sorrowful treat). A miracle, then,
each time she pulls them down

and plates a meal, heaping
meat sauce on the backs of saints
mopping Mary’s brow, pouring tea
from the mouth of an aquamanile
that is the mouth of God.

Copyright © 2018 Erin O'Luanaigh. Reprinted with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Autumn 2018.