My grandmother’s plates

In my grandmother’s room
always lingered
a fragrance
I only learned late
was from turpentine and linseed oil

but the flowers
she crafted on platters and bowl
I noticed…

I see how
she’s painted each plate to a garden
with different flowers and bugs,
each one is unique,

and I look at the years
she has scribbled on the back of the plates.

1939 — before they fled from Norway to Sweden…
1960 — before I was born my parents were married…

with years in between.

My grandmother lived with
her plates,
but I wonder how many dinners been served
on her lifetime of fragrance.

One of my grandmother’s hand painted plates

Lillian asks us to walk around our house and find something on the wall to write poetry on at dVerse today

35 responses to “My grandmother’s plates

  1. That’s an old-fashioned thing that you don’t see much now, decorative plates on the wall, although our neighbours who recently moved away, who are in their eighties, had a little collection going. Some of their plates were beautiful. How amazing that your grandmother decorated them herself! I love the smell of turpentine and linseed oil, which reminds of the past, when I used to paint. The dates on the back of the plates are very important.

  2. What a wonderful treasure you have! I collected the blue Christmas plates for many years….we had a blue kitchen in our Iowa country house that was painted just to feature the plates! 🙂 But these… have them hand painted by your grandmother and to think she used them all those years. Incredibly special. Does she have her name signed as well as the dates? Very very special indeed!

  3. I enjoyed this so much, Bjorn. What a lovely set of plates and memories. I remember my great grandmother’s morning set of Limoges, with different flowers on each plate. What a treasure you have. That linse and turp. smell was because people used a mixture on their muscles and joints. There was little else to use. What a lovely piece you have wrought

  4. That’s amazing – what a treasure! My great aunt was a Clarice Cliff girl – I didn’t know until I came across a picture of her in a book! – and I find that quite exciting, but your story is much better. They must have come from opposite ends of the social spectrum – your grandmother filling up her time, my great-aunt delighted to have such a well paying job! – but ended up doing the same thing. I like the evocative dates, and the connection with all those dinners of the past.

  5. Lovely memories and keepsake from your grandmother. I love how you started with her scent and drew us into the beauty she created for eyes and soul.

  6. What I like best is that you actually use these beautiful plates from time to time to eat from. I’ve always loved the Japanese ideal of matching utility and beauty. And the painting itself is very fine. I think art is a calling no matter how you come to it. The story of packing the fragile plates in the midst of falling bombs is amazing. They must have held a lot of significance for your grandparents.

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