Broken China


 Broken China


On the rocky path from Cala Xoriguer, with its skull-like rocky walls and little red piles of ant debris, she was surprised by the turquoise sea of the bay, mysterious and surprising in its technicolour hue. Looking beyond the bay, the sea looked choppy far out, and she understood now why Homer compared such seas to red wine. Underfoot the path was uneven with large worn stones and outcrops of pock-marked sandstone.

It was here, springing between the yellow soccarrell and the closely grounded green leaves with spiky edges, that she noticed a broken china cup. The handle was clearly visible while the other pieces were scattered in the red earth. Someone walking the path had been drinking when perhaps sweaty fingers had let it slip. It was still a broken cup, but she imagined how in time to come it would be smashed even more and become like pieces of dismembered bones.

            It reminded her of another walk she had taken in Powell, Ohio, along the main road to the frozen lake, one Boxing Day afternoon. On the path, she had seen a smashed jug which had once assumed the shape of Father Xmas, Now, its red pieces had been scattered on the ground. She had imagined young hands carrying parcels, and the jug, either a present for a grandmother or aunt, or one received and meant to start a tradition. But running through the frosty cold, it had been dropped and perhaps with tears or stubborn resolve had been left behind.

            But the story had not ended there. The following Easter, taking the same walk, the memory had come back into her head, and she had walked with her eyes on the floor and there, surprisingly, were some pieces of the jug, red against the asphalt. She could not quite explain why she had been so delighted to find it. It was as if the broken pieces were part of a journey that she was putting together in her head.

            The following summer ditches were being dug along the road, ready to receive new drainage pipes so she knew the jug would be well gone. She walked up to the lake, under shiny, wide Ohio-blue skies, along the clear path.  On the way back, she could not help but skirt the grass border. She did not expect but hoped. And in the grass, she saw something red and glazed. She poked at it with her foot and to her unbelieving delight; it was indeed part of the jug. She welcomed the prodigal piece with an exuberance that colored her whole day. It felt lucky. It felt as if it was written.

At Xmas the path was covered in snow, but in the spring the path lay uncovered and she walked backwards and forwards several times, eyes glued to the grass border. There was no sign. The pieces had been swallowed by the ditch, swept into the drain, trodden in earth. She was disappointed.

            She wondered if the cup on the Balearic island with its view of Majorca’s blue coast would end its story smashed and unnoticed or if someone, maybe her, would walk along and see its pieces. The story lived in the heads of the walkers who broke it, like Hardy’s glass, slipping into the waterfall on a fugitive day. What might the chalice mean to those who sipped from it? She could imagine and she could write it.


Jude Brigley


Jude Brigley is Welsh. She has been a teacher, an editor and a performance poet. She is now writing more for the page and has been published in a variety of magazines including “Ariel Chart”, “Blue Ink’, ‘Scissortail’ and ‘The Lake’.


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