Heiress by Gloria Heffernan


For twenty years, my sister’s fine china
has sat dormant in my kitchen cabinet
until this morning while a steady downpour
tapped at the window and I sipped my
Earl Grey Tea from one of the delicate teacups
with its matching saucer.

Was it the rain that moved me
to take the cup from its shelf and
admire the lavender and mauve flowers
curling around the gilt-edged rim?
Or was it the thirst for memory?

When she died, each place setting
was still carefully packed away,
swaddled in pink tissue paper
and stored in the original boxes.

On the underside in gold lettering
the long-forgotten name of the pattern
sparks a rueful smile: Heiress.
I sip the tea and think of all
I have inherited from my sister –
so much more than a cup or plate
will ever hold.


Gloria Heffernan is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and Exploring Poetry of Presence: A Companion Guide for Readers, Writers and Workshop Facilitators (Back Porch Productions). She has written two chapbooks: Hail to the Symptom (Moonstone Press) and Some of Our Parts, (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Columbia Review, Stone Canoe, and Yale University’s The Perch. For more information, please visit her website at www.gloriaheffernan.wordpress.com.

One thought on “Heiress by Gloria Heffernan

  1. Oh Gloria. This poem. Such a gift with its “thirst for memory.” I love how the object is so much more than an object–love how you share with us a bit of your inheritance.

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