Published on Academy of American Poets (

A Face, a Cup

The thousand hairline cracks in an aged face
match the hairline cracks in an aged cup
and come from similar insults: careless, base
self-absorbed gestures from a younger face,
cruel and fine. Bang! Each disturbed trace
deepens to a visible crack. A break-up,
a mix-up, a wild mistake: these show in a face
like the hairline cracks in an ancient cup.

Neither wholly broken nor all used up
the cup becomes a visage, unstable.
One never knows what will crack it open
and finish it. Banged too hard on a table?
Yet happiness might crack a face open
in a better way: hairline tracery as laugh lines
releasing the joys of ancient thoughts
cupped into use, and suddenly able.


From The Analyst: Poems by Molly Peacock. Copyright © 2017 by Molly Peacock. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., and Trident Media Group.


Molly Peacock

Born in 1947 in Buffalo, New York, Molly Peacock is the author of several collections of poetry, including The Second Blush: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2008).

Date Published: 2017-04-01

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