Broken Pot

 

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.

Earth Woman Shattering

 

Where are the owls that sing through the night until dawn? Their Silence is deafening. When I walk to the river I feel absence keenly, a precursor to the anguish that will pour through each vein and artery of this aching body when I read the words: “Kavanaugh Confirmed.”

 

Dismissed.

 

Silenced again.

 

Rape wills on.

 

The Owls have gone into hiding, sequestered in the gracious arms of the Matriarchs of the Bosque, the Cottonwoods, whose butterfly canopy still protects them from unseeing eyes.

 

But the leaves are falling in drifts, scattering delicately scalloped hearts over desert ground. From lemon to bronze. Hearts that are broken fall to earth like the leaves do, I think, after witnessing the fall.

 

I thought I saw a luminous glow reflected on shining leaves just after dawn when the clouds parted for a rising sun, but now I see the trees were the Source of that Light, not its reflection. Like the owls whose dark eyes penetrate the night.

 

The absence of the owls today is no coincidence for they are in mourning for the women who love them.

 

The wind blows open my door as I write these words.

 

Nature’s response to sorrow is to open the door.

 

I remind myself that soon the trees will be bare and the owls will seek protection from caves carved into sandstone cliffs.

 

I want to follow these birds into the coming night, take comfort from “the dark ways of knowing” to find peace in this Earth Woman Shattering.

 

Allow a river of grief to flow unimpeded…

 

If only I could.

More on La Llorona

The Grief of La Llorona

Easy for a mother to grasp La Llorona,
despite each mean version in the myth
of her motives for ‘killing’ her children.
Every mother gives her children up.
The child for whom she would give her life
can never be retrieved from the river of time.
Every mother becomes
a Woman in White, endlessly crying.

She is the mother who asks,
*What is sorrow and what is not sorrow?
They are dead who do not weep.
The child divine become the suffering man,
and La Llorona, a living Pietá.

The flowers cry when she passes
and remembers her child
running to bring his Mama a bloom.
*Do not think because she sings
her heart is joyful. One also sings from pain.
If you see her weeping under a tamarind tree
or if you see her singing,
the Banshee ghost, the grieving mother,
know her haunting comes from being haunted.

I, too, wander the riverbanks
and notice every child who reminds me
of the beautiful boy who vanished
into the magnificent man.
The door of my heart always ajar
to the baby, the toddler, the child
who will never again walk through.
Every mother, La Llorona.

Every mother gives her children up.
But those whose children are ripped from their arms
at borders where they’re deemed illegal,
those whose children flee to find a better life,
whose sons and daughters ride the Beast train,
their mothers never knowing
if their children live or die;
not even the tears of La Llorona,
though vast as all the oceans,
can plumb the depth of grief these mothers suffer.
Every mother gives her children up, but these
who weep for children gone to ghosts,
these are the mothers who show us  today
the face of La Llorona’s haunted loss.

©Susa Silvermarie 2018

 

Postscript:

It is interesting to me that after just publishing a story on La Llorona (that is also on this blog) that I should find this fine poem.

La Llorona is much on my mind these days as I visit the river. I hear her weeping for all the women who have been assaulted/raped and are not believed. I hear her weeping for all the mothers who have had children ripped away from them. I hear hear weeping for all the animals and plants that are disappearing as I speak… her keening fills my heart with grief.

Southern Comfort

Category: Prose. Owl as Messenger from the Beyond. Nature

 

In spite of seeing the Owl at dawn the day has been a sparse one.

 

I drift like one of the golden heart shaped cottonwood leaves floating to the ground.

 

They fall to sleep, to nourish the dry parched Earth, but I am suspended –

 

What am I doing here?

 

Too dry, too hot, harsh winds. The memory of intolerable heat still scorches my body.

 

Dizzy on a daily basis from lack of fresh moist Northern air.

 

Woozy from a fierce white sun.

 

I have abandoned cool waters, lush green bogs, toads and frogs for Fire.

 

My stomach knots in misery.

 

Maybe it’s time to reverse direction?

 

Over and over I ask the question.

 

Some small voice says listen…

 

Today I am willing

 

To exchange South for North.

 

If that is what is required.

 

I wait…

 

Tonight when I walk under the cottonwoods I look up and see her – a puffball of windblown feathers, tufts flared talons spread clasping the branch above my head.

 

Wordless endearments float through the air.

 

She calls me with her eyes.

 

Dares me to enter

 

those dark pools of Light.

 

I am ready to surrender.

 

I thank her for the vision.

 

Twice in one day.

 

A belated Birth Day Gift.

 

“I love you,” I whisper softly, “I love you.”

 

And I remember the fear the sound of her invoked in me one year ago.

 

As I stood

 

on the threshold of my Great Mistake?

 

We have journeyed round the circle

 

traversing Four Seasons.

 

And I am meeting her

Back at the Beginning.

 

Come to your senses.

 

Go back to where you belong.

 

These are the words I think I hear.

 

Is it really “either or?”

 

 

This bird, my Beloved, stayed present through a year of inexplicable illness.

 

Always without Judgment.

 

Whooing through the night.

 

Singing up the dawn.

 

She’s waiting for me.

 

To make the right decision.

 

How many more blunders must I make?

 

My body keens.

 

Owl is silent, Bearing Witness.

 

She came to warn me and stayed.

 

When I refused to listen

 

She flew South with me

 

Sank with me.

 

Never abandoned me.

 

She’s with me still…