Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Buttermilk Goblet

Linda Dunn


The side is broken out now. The piece lies in the bottom of the goblet waiting for me to find time to repair it. It had survived intact for who knows how many years, one of only two tangible remembrances of a grandmother I never knew very well. I remember how, on our rare visits to her house, she always drank her buttermilk from this particular goblet – plain crystal with a ball like a big marble at the center of the stem. I can see her long, thin, and gnarled fingers worrying with the glass as we talked at the table.

My father took that goblet as a remembrance when she died. There were few possessions for the six children to divide. I took the goblet when my father died, along with a quilt top she pieced.

Only lately have I begun to wonder about the significance of the goblet. Was it perhaps the one fine possession remaining after chance had robbed her of everything but her children? When she drank from it every day did it remind her of the beloved husband she had lost and with whom she had shared a comfortable life? Was it somehow a magic talisman to transport her at the end of the day away from the drudgery she undertook to sustain her family? I know the goblet knows.

I kept it on my mantle and communed with it daily. And foolishly allowed grandchildren to use it as a candy dish. One of them had an accident with it. I should have known it would happen. He and I both cried.

But now I wonder if there is symbolism in the breaking of the goblet. Perhaps, in its shattered state, the goblet is even more representative of my grandmother’s shattered life, which somehow could never be mended: shards lovely in themselves but lacking form, surviving but without the ability to fulfill its potential, enduring but forever damaged.

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Linda Dunn has lived in Franklin, Tennessee, for thirty years. She grew up in south Louisiana and has deep family roots in northeast Texas. She was formerly on the staff of Franklin's The Review Appeal.

© Linda Dunn

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012