Lesson in Ceramics
by Victor Howes
About the jar a pattern ran
To end wherever it began.
It said enough, but it remained
Repetitive and self-contained.
The critic held it for a while
Then placed it on the pedestal
Where it belonged. “A pattern may
Express where you intend to say,”
He said, “but not if you intend
Meaning to start where patterns end.”
I puzzled that one and replied,
“A tree has bark on every side;
An ocean flows about the world;
The latest is that space is curled.”
“The latest is,” my critic laughed,
“That space is moving for and aft,
That ocean flows and ebbs again,
That trees have one side wet in rain.”
I dashed my jar upon the floor:
I felt an impulse to explore.
New forms, new meaning undisclosed,
Unbounded and unpresupposed.
The critic, while I wander far,
From fragments reconstructs the jar.
From Thoughts after Spenser by Victor Howes. Cambridge: Harvard Book Store, 2016. Copyright © Victor Howes.