Tea-Stained Heart

any tea-stained fancy will do
for a cushion, a push-up bra
for a licked and shaved spirit
fasten a tie-clip and desert
the high road
its wintry view smashes
the piggy bank heart
during its wait
for a proper lover

here, on the soft path
by the river, a heart
smashes differently.
It’s held under, over-sexed
telescoped and seized
with helium giggles
in the unlit night, suffering
a lover’s weight

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Tea-Stained Heart”?

I was interested in approaching love from two different perspectives: the cautious and self-contained heart, fed up with waiting for the right love to come along, and the hang-it-all-out-there heart, trying on a series of lovers. Either way, love breaks your heart.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Tea-Stained Heart”?

The heart metaphor, representing two differing approaches to love. Imagery and alliteration, through which I tried to convey a sense of the wildness and desperation of romantic love. And the play on words at the ends of both stanzas—the contrast between the prim: “wait for a proper lover” and the bawdy “suffering a lover’s weight.”

This poem “Tea-Stained Heart” originally appeared in Women & Poetry. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 166 (Autumn 2000): 61.

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