"Cartier," by Alexandra Teague

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 18 2011 7:10 AM

“Cartier”


Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Alexandra Teague read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

The old woman on the train tonight
tells me the Port of Oakland’s lights

look like Cartier’s chokers: so beautiful.
She gestures through the dirt-dull

glass. Pillbox hat and wool skirt
fetching and proper for Friday art,

she’s come from the immaculate
exhibit of another world. Such delicate

work. In the darkness, new and fallen
while we were under water, the cranes

as always lower cargo toward the boats:
the boxes pendent in the sudden glow

of diamonds … Cut and blazing,
as once I saw emeralds hatching

from jeweled eggs: the minute filigree
of skaters spinning beneath the icy

pearl moon, mechanical and scarved
in rubies. Small treasure casks the Tsar

ordered in the years before his family
died—shot in a cellar, topaz in their sleeves.

The eggs were love gifts for his wife,
each gold hinge lifting to another life—

a world inside this world, bright and jeweled.
A world inside this jeweled, blinding world.

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Alexandra Teague is the author of Mortal Geography, winner of the 2010 California  Book Award. She teaches at the University of Idaho.