Pottery Class

Last week, as I was sorting through a box of bisque-fired pottery and deciding which pieces to glaze for the next wood firing, I broke a pot. Of course it was a bowl I was quite pleased with – I never break the failed experiments. I sat there, holding the pot and the shard I had carelessly snapped off, and I remembered some advice from my first pottery teacher during my first pottery lesson, more than ten years ago.

My thanks to editor Anne Burke who published this poem in Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature in 2008.


Pottery Class

the instructor says
don’t get too attached
and as weeks pass
I learn

how wet clay collapses
under unsure hands

how clay not properly prepared
cracks in the heat
of the kiln

how glaze applied
too thickly
fuses to the kiln shelf

but I discover
the joy
of going home
with dirt under my fingernails
and smudges on my face

that to centre the clay
on the wheel
I must first
centre myself

weeks later
I hold the crooked bowl
from that first night
and allow myself
the satisfaction
even now
that it could fall

and I would have
to let it go


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