by Chad Heltzel

  1. 1.

  2. Up for auction: a Greentown Glass
  3. chocolate sawtooth dolphin candy dish

  4. with fish top. Authentic:
  5. ten teeth on each side

  6. of the mouth. The depression
  7. inside the dish follows

  8. the tail’s curve. Manufacturing cracks
  9. near the mouth: remnants of the cooling process.

  10. Once, barrelsful sold for nickels apiece—
  11. the cost of a bread loaf.

  12. Green drinking glasses hidden
  13. incentives in oat and detergent boxes.

  14. Punch bowls and cups free
  15. with oil changes. Prices, of course,

  16. fluctuate—check a catalog for appraisal.
  17. The dolphin today—

  18. two thousand dollars, starting price.
  19. Hold up your placard and make a bid.

  20. Next: a cobalt blue cord drapery
  21. cruet, then heirloom amethyst candle holders.

  22. Collectors must confirm quality. Note
  23. that not all pieces will sell at auction.

  24. In my mother’s cabinet, a clear cake pedestal,
  25. inherited from her great-grandmother.

  26. A true antique, over a century old.
  27. Be sure to check for bubbles

  28. or molding marks. Families ate from these
  29. pieces daily—look for utensil scratches.

  30. Run a finger around the rim;
  31. feel for chips. Avoid so-called sick glass

  32. clouded by automatic dishwashers.
  33. Evaporation rings can be removed;

  34. lost luster is permanent.
  35. Mother had assumed

  36. the cake pedestal would carry value. On its surface,
  37. bubbles rise from the base.

  38. The pattern is neither clearly
  39. floral nor geometric. Looked at from above,

  40. its honeycombs, or leaves, radiate
  41. to the center, then whirlpool

  42. at the stand—
  43. small, smaller, nothing.

  1. 2.

  2. Questions arise. How to account
  3. for the discrepancies?

  4. Certain glass may break
  5. like a solid, but will flow

  6. like a liquid if left on a table for a week.
  7. A physicist deems it a supercooled liquid.

  8. Other scientists claim the thickness
  9. of antique windows’ bases

  10. demonstrates that glass is liquid,
  11. melting slowly over centuries

  12. in cathedral panes. But if this were true,
  13. we should also see pooling

  14. in medieval telescopes, ancient Egyptian figurines.
  15. When the blower spins the glass,

  16. the edges are thicker. When mounting,
  17. workers placed the panes

  18. thick side down to stabilize them,
  19. to prevent water from accumulating

  20. in the lead cames at the base.
  21. When windows are carelessly installed,

  22. we find the thick side top-up.
  23. In recent factory productions,

  24. we see similar effects: where glass is emptied
  25. on cooling tables to spread, it is always thicker

  26. where it was poured. We deleted frozen
  27. from the physicist’s words.

  28. The professor said, Glass is a liquid
  29. which has lost the ability to flow.

  1. 3.

  2. No records left—the factory destroyed.
  3. The fire unexplained. The natural gas reserves

  4. suddenly run dry. With nothing
  5. to fire the furnaces, the operation was finished.

  6. No one replicated the molds.
  7. The company’s president

  8. confiscated the family glass formulas.
  9. A museum was opened

  10. on the sixty-seventh anniversary of the fire.
  11. Visitors can see the remaining

  12. blue agate spooner there,
  13. or the Holly Amber series,

  14. the only one recognized
  15. by the Museum of Modern Art.

  16. Another exhibit explains how to tell
  17. genuine productions from fakes.

  18. This factory created designs in unusual colors—
  19. emerald green, teal, canary yellow, cobalt.

  20. No manufacturing records remain—
  21. new letterhead soon announces

  22. a chocolate glass orange tree hairpin holder.
  23. In replicas, pinks may appear

  24. shades darker, even orange.
  25. Weight and thickness is key—

  26. the glass becomes heavier with time.
  27. Cookie jar handles sometimes

  28. elongate, sharpen at the edges.
  29. Look for utensil scratches—an indication

  30. of authenticity. Some plates, when stacked,
  31. should look like the letter V:

  32. an optical illusion. Experts researching paintings
  33. have discovered methods for eliminating

  34. visual guesswork—X-ray and infrared technology,
  35. chemical pigment analyses. A hair from

  36. Jackson Pollock’s balding head lodged in the paint
  37. can be matched to DNA in his studio.

  38. Don’t be misled, however:
  39. probability may still best determine

  40. composition dates. In this trade,
  41. there can be no certainty.

  1. 4.

  2. At a party in Boston,
  3. the family poured an inferior Chablis

  4. into the crystal, but all in attendance
  5. remarked on its sweetness.

  6. The husband stood by his wife’s side.
  7. She recalled a story to the guests

  8. in which she had walked to the pond
  9. on her family’s estate

  10. one summer day in her childhood.
  11. Before she reached its bank,

  12. she’d caught her dress on a low briar.
  13. Unaware, she leaned toward the water

  14. and heard the fabric tear.
  15. At that moment, something in her broke—

  16. she imagined being told her parents died
  17. and she would be forced to live

  18. in a faraway orphanage. She ran home
  19. crying and could not stop until

  20. her mother held her and she fell
  21. asleep through her tears.

  22. To that day, she said,
  23. she could not stand the sound

  24. of anything tearing, not even a piece of paper.
  25. The guests looked into their glasses

  26. and drank the wine. They did not know
  27. the harm of ingesting so little.

  28. Lead, which handily bonds
  29. with fine wines and liquors,

  30. has since been discovered in excavated shards
  31. of fine crystal decanters,

  32. popular among the upper class
  33. in the Depression after the war.

  34. When the husband lay on his deathbed
  35. a few years later, a nurse dropped a camphor bottle,

  36. the fumes dissipating throughout the room.
  37. At that moment, she thought she heard him:

  38. I cannot bear the sound
  39. of breaking glass—cannot bear—

  1. 5.

  2. In the Gulf of Mexico, archaeologists
  3. date to the War of 1812

  4. this unnamed ship’s wreck. It carried
  5. perfectly preserved telescopes, hourglasses, compasses,

  6. buttons, pieces of a pocket watch.
  7. The objects are measured with lasers,

  8. labeled on maps, assigned unique bin numbers.
  9. Mustard jars embossed LONDON

  10. match jars from another site—
  11. the word and image allow

  12. scientists to estimate the ship’s age.
  13. Still, we do not know its origin,

  14. its destination. For simplicity’s sake,
  15. newspapers call it the Mardi Gras Shipwreck.

  16. We assume we will find answers in the ordering,
  17. though we still need measurements for the losses:

  18. where the magnets would have pointed,
  19. which comet lost to its observer,

  20. on whose mantel a timepiece would be placed.
  21. In the depths, slipping sand

  22. mimics the ocean’s sweep in soft tides.
  23. Sunken to the ocean floor over two centuries ago,

  24. the telescopes’ leather cases
  25. have survived intact. The same cannot be said

  26. for the ship’s cannon—the original iron
  27. has degraded to such a degree

  28. that only the organisms residing inside
  29. hold it together when lifted from the water.
Packingtown Review – Vol.5, Fall 2013

Chad Heltzel's poems and reviews have previously appeared in Cream City Review, Faultline, Hamilton Stone Review, Fifth Wednesday, Konundrum Engine Literary Review, and Sarmatian Review. Chad currently lives in Chicago and teaches World Literature and College English at UIC College Prep High School.

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