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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “The Black Kettle” by Frank Ormsby

The Black Kettle Frank Ormsby’s new collection, The Rain Barrel, continuously circles back to the objects of his home and childhood. The love is palpable in “The Black Kettle.” Instead of tossing aside the kettle, an object that symbolizes care, nourishment, and families coming together, he wishes it to remain something that brings joy to the family by nourishing them with the sight and smell of flowers. In another poem, Ormsby writes, “The broken axe is family now, like the rain barrel and the scarecrow.” These objects become their own characters in Ormsby’s poetry, animated by the care they are shown by the people who claim them as “unmistakably ours.” In a society increasingly characterized by consumption, these poems are a refreshing reminder of the importance that everyday objects have to hold memories and emotions for the future. 

The Black Kettle 

Now that the new stove is in place and throwing its heat
the full length of the kitchen,
we have replaced the black kettle.
It no longer hangs over the open fire
on a lethal hook like a piece of dungeon furniture.
I want to angle it at the front door, fill it with clay
and seed it with snowdrops and primroses. 

Or better still,
we could cultivate something scarlet and spreading,
a nasturtium, say,
With a statement to make about color.
Saved from a rusty nail in the barn,
its colors doubled, the kettle would bed in
as though it had always been there,
at home and visible and unmistakably ours;
a local fire-god with a tongue of flowers. 

Frank Ormsby, from The Rain Barrel (2020)

Categories: Frank Ormsby, Poem of the WeekTags:

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