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  • Grief tears an opening in the fabric of reality, an art history professor said to an auditorium full of undergraduates. He was illustrating a Pietà, whose marble rolled light over the veiled mother whose sorrow stands in for humanity. She mourns with her whole figure, he showed us, red laser pointing to the expression of her hands, her ribs, the match in her downcast eyes burning over her sonʼs thinning form. Art is a body we agree to have in common. The bubble skin of self bursts like a raindrop to join the riverʼs shine.


    The I is born in a field of possibilities. It distinguishes itself among a flea market of sunglasses and snow globes. An absurdity. A sentimental hungering for chana daal, the pulled dough of cherry cobbler becomes cultural identity, division among nations. The singular lives in defense of itself, a border. The manifestation of that tension can write itself larger than the Gaza strip if we ignore it, allow ourselves to be not-that whole.


    Yesterday I went to a farmersʼ market—bought produce, a delicate vine, bath salts. I shop by surveying my options, if time allows and the ground to cover not too broad. I could let most everything that doesnʼt burn or dissolve go, but circled a potterʼs booth several times. He had an ultramarine glaze the color that reminds me of the gasp of air before a newborn cries, the jellyfish depths of an ocean before it turns black. Earlier I picked up one of his cups, examined its stamp, its heft. My best friend was a potter for years. He taught me that the best way to honor pots is to use them. The cup had a beautiful rustic lip, but it was more for looks than drinking. Still, I was drawn to that blue, the only color that seems enough to fill me.


    When I passed the potterʼs table again on the way out, I noticed the bud vase with its balanced foot. Everything in its base lifts up toward that wine-stained lip even as the glaze streaks down in permanent rain. I set it on my writing desk


    The potter comes from a family of potters, he told me. His wife made this vase and taught him everything he knows. She was in Alaska and has been for two months. Theyʼre going to retire there, he said, where he would throw pots and fish. I imagined it with him and we smiled. The choice reflects a lifetime of choices in a certain direction.
    “Enjoy your vessel,” he said before I left. The veil parted on either side of his sentence. The world behind the world shimmered, and I rowed the bark of my body back through the parking lot along a rising current of shared circulation.
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