Ballad of the Potter’s Wheel

Day 3 was quite a challenging combination! NaPoWriMo’s prompt was asking for a “Fourteener” (a poem with 14 syllable lines – I did a modified version with a ballad as each couplet has 14 syllables). Then I checked out the prompt at Writer’s Digest and they wanted a poem about a machine. As many of you know, I’ve been taking a few art classes lately and this semester took on the really unique challenge of Introduction to Pottery. At first, I loved the class. Then, about six weeks ago, I began my battle with the pottery wheel. We are not friends. We are not built to work well together. Let me tell you… for the beginner, throwing on the wheel is nothing at all like that scene with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in “Ghost”! I have recycled MANY failed attempts at bowls and cups and plates over these few weeks. Now, as our wheel-throwing time is coming to an end, I’ve suddenly started to get the hang of it! (Go figure, right?!) It seemed a natural pairing for me to use this opportunity to share some of the pottery process through poetry. 

Image Source: Pottery-on-the-Wheel.com

I.

A soft and formless lump of clay

Is spinning on the wheel.

An anxious lump forms in my throat.

My nerves must be like steel.

II.

I wet my hands, take a deep breath,

And set them to the job

Of making something beautiful

And useful from this blob.

Refrain

A lump of clay, a spinning disk,

Romantic ideas held.

I’ll try and try and try again

Until these notions meld.

III.

Early on, I meet resistance,

My nerves begin to fray.

Being centered is critical

For potter and for clay.

IV.

With center found, the time has come

To open up the mound

The clay, like me, is vulnerable.

The likeness is profound.

Refrain

A lump of clay, a spinning disk,

Romantic ideas held.

I’ll try and try and try again

Until these notions meld.

V.

The next step is to widen out

Establishing the base.

Stability is requisite

For any decent vase.

VI.

Compress the bottom, make it strong,

Then start to pull the wall.

Be careful with the pressure now

Please, God, don’t let them fall!

Refrain

A lump of clay, a spinning disk,

Romantic ideas held.

I’ll try and try and try again

Until these notions meld.

VII.

Compress the rim and pull some more

Until the height’s just right.

With gentle pressure, shape the wall –

Soft curve that will delight.

VIII.

Still approaching with lightest touch

Fingers wrap round the throat

Drawing in a lovely collar

Contrasting the wall’s bloat.

Refrain

A lump of clay, a spinning disk,

Romantic ideas held.

I’ll try and try and try again

Until these notions meld.

IX.

Compress the bottom and the rim,

Smooth any place that’s rough.

Be cautious in these final steps

Or else the vase will scuff.

X.

Patience now, the vase must dry to

Leather-hard for trimming.

Eventually the vase is glazed

And I feel like I’m winning.

Refrain

A lump of clay, a spinning disk,

Romantic ideas held.

I’ll try and try and try again

Until these notions meld.

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