Polishing the Silver

Even kept inside its closet
the family tea set, candlestick,
will darken in a year, the brighrwork
clouding and smudged with soot
oxygen leaves tasting silver
through months of still and darkness.
We bring the stuff to the terrace
and the polish cream in its jar
and rub away the smoke to find
the mirror flesh original
reflecting us in the ritual,
scrubbing till the heirloom’s new and
perfect, glitters as when beaten
and brought back from Charleston over
muddy trail and swollen river
and kept hidden like a weapon.
—Robert Morgan