{An Umbrella Invitational}

Mary Cresswell

is from Los Angeles and lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. She is a science editor by trade and has published poems in print journals in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as well as in internet journals such as Blackbird, The Ghazal Page, Deep South and The HyperTexts.

She’s co-author of Millionaire’s Shortbread (University of Otago, 2003); her book Trace Fossils is in recovery after a last-minute funding claw-back.

—Back to Milestones Contents/Issue Links—

Squaring the Egg Elizabeth, Lizzie, Betsy and Beth,
all went out to find a bird’s nest
they found a nest with five eggs in,
they all took one and left four in.

I. The movie version

The Winter Egg was
created by Fabergé
as an Easter gift from
Tsar Nicholas II
to his Tsarina.

It was three inches high
made of white jade
rimed with diamonds
balanced on an outcrop of
quartz and rock crystal.

When the Egg was opened,
a blood-red Firebird
shrieked whistling
to the roof of the audience chamber.
The Bird circled and bated
against the blue and gilt panelling
until it fell
to the floor, whence
it was retrieved by a footman
and restored to Her Imperial Highness.

The Winter Egg has not been seen since 1918.
It is feared lost.

II. The seabird’s tale

The guillemot lives in arctic cold.
She lays two eggs which cannot roll.
She has no nest.
She lives on cliffs.
The eggs accommodate to this:
They’re shaped like frozen human tears
prepared to thaw
when warmth appears.

III. Diary note

You can’t make an omelet without
doing you know what, and

that afternoon, we were so busy
doing you know what

we lost track of time until the doorbell
rang, and it was your mate Kevin

with a 6-pack and a happy smile
so I said come on in, Kevin, I sighed,

he’s about to turn on the sports channel, so
Kevin did and that was the rest of

Well, thought I, them’s the breaks

At seven p.m. I made
cheese omelets for the three of us

Very nice, very nice, you said.
Kevin went home at midnight.

And so to bed.

IV. Oral history

Teaching my granny
to suck eggs
my granny sucks
she was taught
teachering on the brink
of an eggshell
indeed, she herself was taut
in the gran old fashion
my granny
sucks eggs.

[Originally published in Other Voices]


Artist’s Statement

T his poem is a milestone because I had only been writing poems for a year or two, because it was my first appearance in an established journal (not to mention an overseas journal!), and because it was my first exploration of combining different voices and personas. I had enormous fun putting it together, and I still feel pleased rereading it.