scent bottle 2
There has to be a morning
by Alex Barr

There has to be a morning
(one at least among nearly thirty thousand)
where niggles fall
into the Great Melting Pot of Niggles
and there is a sense of lightness
not the fragile lightness of balloons,
more the floating of clouds that just don’t mind
where they are heading.

And you notice that Victorian thing you found
(“A scent bottle,” she says—news to me)
with its glass pointed stopper (like
the top of a stupa, yes?) and elegant swelling body
of cut glass, which you formerly
consigned (along with much of what you wrote)
to the Oubliette of the Useless
along with a heavy heap of Victorian values
and specialized kitchenware: moustache cups,
piping-bag holders, grapefruit spoons . . .

And from the old green wooden box of dusters
and shoe cream you dig out the long-forgotten
Goddard’s Long-term Silver Polish, while
the garden (which usually feels too small)
seen through the window is peaceful, without wind,
neat and rectangular, birdless (but so be it),
and you shake the bottle and follow the instructions
and rub and rub and chain back to those mornings
when Billiken God of Things As They Ought To Be
took charge and sent the dour distractions off
to the Desert of Enduring Emptiness,
and although the sky is a blank
tapestry of grey, the neck of that useless thing,
Victorian thing, has come alive with light.

PHOTO: Victorian Cut Crystal Scent Bottle, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem when for once in my life I didn’t feel driven, the weather outside wasn’t sunny enough to tempt me out, there was nothing pressing to do, and I happened to pick up the scent bottle, a familiar sight but one I had never fully noticed. Engaging with it, studying it, cleaning it, I was fully in the moment . . . wonderful, simple, memorable.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alex Barr’s recent poetry is in Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Scintilla, The Dark Horse, and Orbis. His poetry collections are Letting in the Carnival  from Peterloo Poets and Henry’s Bridge from Starborn Books. He lives in Wales. His blog is