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5 The Teapot

mirror5A SECOND BREW needs a helping hand, so shift your arse and serve me, Jeeves!
Lift that lid and stir those leaves.’

Drinking tea directly from the spout, as the Chinese did in antiquity, is the
brazen self-reliance of addiction. Teapots were smaller then, scaled for the
individual. His brew crock stolen, perhaps by a rival, the philosopher is
drained of poetry. The taste now is alien – bony and bitter. Petition the
Forbidden City: nothing is impossible for a raging thirst like this.

1st – The Mysterious Teapot
What would happen without that tiny hole in the lid? Bad air built up like
tea behind a dam would send a cataract of pulses spluttering through the
spout, as if trying to expel words through a gag of social anxiety. Trivia
question: is it true some reckless teapots dispense with a proper spiracle?

2nd – The Predictable Teapot
No precautions are deemed necessary. Repeating its philistine spillage, a
trickle down the spout like a moneylender’s chin, this incorrigible vessel
stains cambric with the sabotage you always expected – as if walking in a
fresh fall of snow and never once looking back at your footprints.

3rd – The Villager’s Teapot
A parishioner’s annual chore. ‘More tea, vicar?’ Her question has perfect
pitch, an irony caught only by intimates. A good shrine needs no blush.
Silent as an angel’s bloodstream, the room collects trumps and tinkles. In
this quarter-way house to heaven animal vestments somewhat chafe.

4th – The Teapot on a Trestle Table
This rich brown warhorse off the assembly line, ignorable household
genie, exerts an insouciant gravity that kept a family from flying apart. It’s
a pragmatic system: toxins trapped as flecks beneath the glaze and a spout
pouring double-strength tonic. ‘Buy me and gruffly heal your hurts.’

5th – The Rococo Teapot
Monkey violinists akimbo among flying pheasants and pendant peaches
are a triumph of the Trianon’s will. Fingers perform six impossible swirls
at breakfast and tea. The minister of culture, peering up from beneath a
glass table, wittily frenchifies its provenance: the mosses of Saxony.

6th – The Rustic Teapot
The windows are tax-evading solids, one with a painted hobbit. The
knob’s a crooked chimney in the thatch; the handle, an Oedipal tree trunk.
How to naturalise the spout? A banished wood sprite, innovative drainage,
or an unmentionable elephant’s trunk stretching out to drink the rain?

All six – The Teapot in the Souk
After the fuss of welcome, carpets are rumbled out with a flourish,
crisscrossing, tightening the commitment to consider. Then mint tea is
brought, in a lamp-like pot with octagonal windows. Mint is the aroma
of transaction. Only a Berber could walk out at this point with dignity.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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