Plain China


by Liz Purvis · Elon University
Jellies, Katie Toucher · Lemoyne College

My father taught me how to level

a pool cue across the bridge of my hand

on the table. He’d take me

to the kinds of bars open in daytime,

lit by neon beer signs hanging

over faded green felt.


I would pour my own tall glass

from the tea pitcher on the wait table

while he placed the balls in their rack:

yellow 1 at the head, black 8 in the center,

a stripe-solid-stripe pattern snug

inside the grimy white triangle.

When he finished, he would knock

its three corners with the cue ball,

say it kept them all together.


I learned to recognize the clack

a pool cue makes against the ball when it needs

chalk; the feel of testing a shot

before swinging even, my arm

a pendulum; and the number of scratches

against the lock his key would make

before I could offer to fit it in, turn the knob.

About the Author

Liz Purvis · Elon University

Liz Purvis is an MFA candidate in poetry at NC State, poetry editor for The Fem, and recipient of the E. Nelson James Award for "What I Mean to Say But Haven't," a poem published in The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle. Her publications include pieces in Cahoodaloodaling, Damselfly Press, Deep South Magazine, and others. “Eight-Ball” originally appeared in Elon’s literary and art journal, Colonnades.

About the Artist

Katie Toucher · Lemoyne College

Katie Toucher earned a B.A. in biology with a dual minor in Latin and classical humanities. Jellies, taken in the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, first appeared in The Salamander, LeMoyne’s annual publication of student writing and art.