You start in the usual way, centered,
earth spinning on the wheel.
You have to consider volume,
the space required to contain
or embrace—as you so often have—
the beloved body, reduced in the kiln,
vitrifying memory and affection in the glaze,
hardening the walls your hands
draw up from clay as they
slip wetly about the gathering
bowl of the body. The swell
of happiness fills your lungs until
it reaches the hinge of loss
at the base of your throat. What erupts
seems more sob than song, but sing,
you know this craft by heart and hand,
can shape it streaming, eyes closed,
sensing the thrum of an absent heartbeat
in the pulsing plasticity of clay.
Here is the foot. Here is the lip.
Between them, the beloved: earth, ash,
sand, proof of our ordinariness.
You accept this as you defy it,
apply the sea-brilliant glaze, shape lid
with your thumb and fingers supple,
willing to touch again, again—
you cradle in your lap
what you’ve made and what you’ve lost,
heavier than you imagined,
holding close what has already been
fused by fire and which cannot be undone.