By | 1 December 2013
200 million years ago you could
have walked from Hungary
to Australia on a trail of plates
across Pangaea, sprawling humanless
and wild: before continental drift
fractured the landmass, before
the ocean’s shifting surface hid
the skeletons of ships and men seeking
new places from which to miss
the old places.
now your trail of painted
plates spans the vastest distances:
time differences, generations,
15,862 kilometres, and
the smallest, the most human:
flowers, flowers, flowers
that tumble, and bustle silently
together in porcelain frames
waiting for a knife and fork, a teabag,
a smudge of pink lipstick.

In Éva Gyarmati’s collection of painted porcelain, I see the grand narratives of migration and culture intersecting with the small, intimate stories associated with crockery used to feed our families, to celebrate special occasions and to welcome guests into our homes. After migrating from Hungary as political refugees, Gyarmati and her husband raised a family and built a life for themselves in Australia. Her collection draws on both her old and new homes to combine distinctive Hungarian Kalócsai patterns with Australian landscapes, flora and fauna. In my poem, I imagine these intersections: the grand histories of migration meeting the everyday rituals that keep us connected across oceans.

Return to Story Circle: The Transnational Story Hub and the Inspiraciones Literarias, a chapbook curated by Merlinda Bobis.

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