Crystal Bowls and Crystal Cups

In Saeed Jones’ poem “The Blue Dress”, the speaker describes a dress his mother owned and how beautiful he always found it. It is a poem filled with descriptive sentence fragments that make it difficult to understand at first, but like all good poems, it slowly reveals itself over the course of several close readings.

One of the many images Jones describes is of crystal bowls and cups. He writes,

“…is goodbye in a flooded, antique room, is goodbye in a room full of crystal bowls / and crystal cups, is the ring-ting-ring of water dripping from the mouths / of crystal bowls and crystal cups…” (3).

He mentions crystal twice in these lines, indicating its significance. The location of this ‘goodbye’ is also significant. Crystal is a very formal type of glassware, often passed through generations, and reserved only for important guests and in many cases is used only for display. It is a symbol of antiquity; a symbol of “the way things were”. As such, this ‘goodbye’ becomes contextualized as a goodbye to an older way of life. In the further context of Jones’ poetry and his life, these cups and bowls represent heterosexuality and he, as a gay man, is coming to accept himself for who is. He is leaving behind the traditional life of heterosexuality that his family and society, symbolized by the antique room, expects from him.

“The Blue Dress” is a bold statement of acceptance and identity and is my favorite poem from this collection because of how bold it is. The form of the poem, with every sentence fragment starting with ‘is’, may also hearken back to Jones’ poetic beginnings, writing poems through the voices of various characters to hide his homosexuality from his parents and, perhaps, himself. However, from a close reading, it is clear to see that Jones is coming to accept himself and that he is saying goodbye, in particular, to his mother, whom he associated with the dress.

One thought on “Crystal Bowls and Crystal Cups”

  1. Your commentary on the cups being passed down through generations reminds me of Eve Sedgewick’s ideas about family. A heterosexual and white family is what is expected by society. When this heterosexuality is passed down, like the glassware, queer children will feel isolated and separated from their family. This also contrasts with Jones’ acceptance of his sexuality. Many queer kids in the aforementioned situation hide their true selves in order to fit in and inherit the glassware.

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