Many thanks to Grace Pham
Masterworks of Ming (from The Writer’s Almanac)
such a lovely
a small basin
Perhaps refined, expensive, decorous housewares are the product and legacy of empire: we lived better than you. What kind of life, though? In the museum light, they are what they are, “lovely.” Filled with rice or water, they lose nothing. From a “glow” we considered food but not the act of eating, of actual living. Next to dinner, the filled or unfilled “bowls” would be “nice.” They are neither necessary nor lovely as dinner itself; sustenance may reside elsewhere. The basin, no matter how large, is not large enough to contain a daughter. At best she can only be put in at an angle. The manliness that constitutes politics and empire excludes the feminine (“Ming” is a male and imperial name). Women have the power of generation, of change. They are not even representative of static being.