Here We Give Thanks

(after Gregory O’Brien)


Because the jugs spring

from the mind of Mary (or is it the angel?)

visible over the hills
of the promising land, we begin

to gather them to us.
Now they crouch

in the kitchen light—a crowd
of well wishers that pitch

and list in the weather of the house.
A tall jug reassures

a woman ‘on the brink
of something’; another

buzzes lips between the sighs
and lows of the percussion

section. One has a handle
so generous it may

run the cup over.
Ah, little congregation of jugs

how you pout
over pregnant bellies.

Who is the father?
Elsewhere jugs

live beside the hills,
the lamp, the tau cross,

the kumara pit. A speech
bubble appears. We guess

at its finely crafted message
not wanting to assume the obvious.

Mary-Jane Duffy is a poet, art writer and teacher of creative writing. She completed Victoria University's under-graduate poetry workshop with Gregory O’Brien in 1999, and an Iowa creative writing paper at the IIML with Dan Poppick in 2012. Her poems have appeared in JAAM, the ListenerSport4th Floor and various art-related catalogues. She currently writes a monthly column on contemporary art for Fishhead magazine. Her poems have been published in Millionaire's Shortbread (Otago University Press, 2003).

Duffy comments: ‘Colin McCahon’s early religious painting often included jugs. They made me see these humble vessels with different eyes. Soon jugs by Ross Mitchell-Anyon, Mirek Smisek and Katherine Smythe, plus random op shop beauties, began to gather in my kitchen—a Greek chorus to the goings on there, and a reminder that art never stops talking.’

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