Monday, February 2, 2015

The Firing.

for Les Blakebrough and the memory of John Chappell 

by Gary Snyder 

Bitter blue fingers 
Winter nineteen sixty-three A.D. 
showa thirty-eight 
Over a low pine-covered splay of hills in Shiga 
West-south-west of the outlet of Lake Biwa 
Domura village set on sandy fans of the sweep 
and turn of a river 
Draining the rotten-granite hills up Shigaraki 
On a nineteen-fifty-seven Honda cycle model C 
Rode with some Yamanashi wine "St. Neige" 
Into the farmyard and the bellowing kiln. 
Les & John 
In ragged shirts and pants, dried slip 
Stuck to with pineneedle, pitch, 
dust, hair, woodchips; 
Sending the final slivers of yellowy pine 
Through peephole white blast glow 
No saggars tilting yet and segers bending 
neatly in a row-- 
Even their beards caked up with mud & soot 
Firing for fourteen hours. How does she go. 
Porcelain & stoneware: cheese dish. twenty cups. 
Tokuri. vases. black chawan 
Crosslegged rest on the dirt eye cockt to smoke-- 

The hands you layed on clay 
Kickwheeld, curling, 
creamed to the lip of nothing, 
And coaxt to a white dancing heat that day 
Will linger centuries in these towns and loams 
And speak to men or beasts 
When Japanese and English 
Are dead tongues. 

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