First the mud was dredged from the reeded river
by the potter’s boy
who slid his hands in the cool sludge and made his friends with the wet earth.
In the studio, the inert mass waited to be yanked off in chunks, to be shaped by adroit hands –
like a blank canvas whispering to a painter, I dream of future beauty.
The day breaks.
On the wheel, the world spins round
pinches – I am real.
pulls – I am flexible.
shapes and scrapes into perfection.
In the kiln, we fear we will crack and flake and burst into a thousand cranes – confetti in the sky.
I absorb the heat and build my armor, I will be exquisite.
Between the sheaths of straw, we now must all be patient
until the day the crate opens and the sun beats off the ground
and I am disappointed that I do not shine
Matte, dirty, my leather skin
is not enough.
The potter places me aside – I must trial the heat again
to be striking.
The celadon glaze covers me, smoothes the blemishes, reveals a green
so unlike the grasshopper, the lilies, or the ferns.
I am spring itself,
reborn in the fires of the kiln, no longer stifled.
Again the straw, but I know my path is certain when the potter smiles as he places
me in the sun.
Now I look out from my shelf – intimidated by the bowls and spoons surrounding –
the shopkeeper pulls me down for fine ladies to admire
but my vert skin must not be as glassy as my peers –
I am always put back.
Shopkeeper’s boy places me on the highest shelf where
no one will see me - perhaps so they
will think that I shine
from the shadows, but
I am not a child of the sun.
Shopkeeper’s boy trips the ladder,
tips the shelf, and I am free in the air
sailing towards my mother.
It seems my armor was not strong enough - my neck is broken,
but I still breathe.
Gasping, I still breathe.
Into the dust pan I am held by a simple clay bowl
and evacuated to the metal man
who purses his lips and sets my shards on the table.
Rearranging, trying to find the pattern as before.
I worry I will cut him.
I did not mean to hurt him but his blood flows when my neck stands tall again.
My veins are golden and I shine not like the sun but as the sun.
Now I am pedestooled, broken but healed - the epitome of aesthetics.
Everyone can see where I was once in pieces, but the flaws make me stronger.