When Emmy handed me the pot I held it gently in my palm, marveling over its rounded shape, the warm earth tones, the sparkling mica speckled through smooth clay.
“It’s broken,” she said simply as I turned the perfect vessel in my hands, laying my cheek again her soft skin. How did she manage to stretch the clay that thin?
“I think it’s beautiful just as it is,” I responded gazing at the lines where the clay had cracked in the fire – almost as if it was meant to be this way. I peered inside the neck of the bowl to see two pieces of broken lip nestled in the bottom, two sisters asleep in the arms of their mother.
“Once I sold a broken pot,” Emmy murmured with a quiet sense of wonder in her voice.
“I see why,” I responded, replacing the pot on the table with reluctance.
The entire display was a collage of natural art. Bits of bone, smooth stones, shells, delicately strung hand made necklaces, hills of sand, strips of patterning crisscrossed the table highlighting the exquisite shapes of these small containers. Lush sedum plants provided an emerald backdrop. I was transfixed and couldn’t take my eyes off the table…
Vaguely, as if from a distance, I heard Emmy say to someone “ Oh, I probably came out of the ground somewhere” in response to a question about where she had come from.
Obviously, I thought. Emmy emerged with her pots.
I was so moved that this artist was able to create her own original style without copying Indigenous traditions. After being with, and touching each exquisite shape my eyes and hands would recognize these pots anywhere. The Spirit of the Clay spoke through each pot. Emmy doesn’t sign her work, a tribute to the Mother of Clay?
Mammitu, she is called by some.
That night, tired and deeply satisfied from the El Rito Studio Tour the image of the broken vessel kept re- surfacing in my mind… There was something about that pot…
The next day I returned to the art show to finish my sight seeing. It was my birthday, and this year like so many others I would be acknowledging the day alone. After visiting a number of other studios, I was drawn back to Emmy’s table.
“Will you sell me this pot?” I asked Emmy as I cradled the little jewel in my hands. She was thoughtful for a minute, and then nodded her head. We agreed on a price, and I left holding the fragile clay creation tenderly in one hand.
Not understanding why, but knowing I had made the right choice.
When I returned to the Adobe I placed the little pot in the Northern Nicho with the Owl’s feathers… but the pot was still speaking. ‘Not here.’
Where then? And suddenly I knew as I walked over to the Nicho in the South that held a clay vase full of Anasazi potsherds. I moved the large pot to one side and placed the broken jewel next to the Ancient Ones. Then as now, in the South, the direction of Fire, soft clay vessels were surrendered to this fierce element to be tempered… if they survived the pots became strong and durable, capable of storing water, grains, and seeds for the future…
I felt waves of amazement wash over me even as tears ran down my face – rivulets in the rain…Even though the little pot had a broken collar, she had survived the ravages of fire and held her broken fragments tenderly deep within her body as both an offering and a prayer.