It is not your cold hard shine that yet feels silky-smooth
Or your metallic music when my gold ring brushes you accidentally.
It is not even that you are from a time of gracious living,
When silver on the table meant roast beef on the platter,
Garnet wine in crystal-stemmed glasses,
Ladies in swishing gowns and men impeccable in black and white.
It is not that I aspire to live in splendid style,
To sweep my hair up and put on faint, rich fragrances
Imported from India or France.
I have no illusions of grandness or favor;
My table is humble, a farm table sturdy enough
To serve men in rough muddy boots and overalls.
It is that you need cleaning; your plated finish dulls with time
and the air of country living. Your gleam ebbs; tarnish
spreads like a gray moss into every crevice, every curlicue,
every crease in your haughty surface.
I find the cleaner, put on work-stained gloves, and gently,
gently in swirling circles stroke you, over and over;
while I stroke I hum, perhaps a song from childhood
and I remember my mother and her pride
in her silver-laden sideboard,
and how we cleaned it, every piece, for holidays.