and in the shop…
“Caviare and Chips”,
He’s playing God again: puffing out his cheeks
like the great north wind in a fairy tale; breathing life
into a shapeless blob. Immaculate conception.
And now I see the bird before it’s hatched; watch
as he thrusts his canna da soffio into the furnace:
genesis – before my very eyes!
When he plunges it into cold water, I freeze.
Baptism by fire – a hiss of steam rising
from amorphous silica: life in the raw.
In the city, shapely gondolas snake
along shot-silk waterways;
sunlight glances through stained-glass windows.
I’m in another world – intense with the heat
and passion of giving birth as he breathes again
into the blowpipe; watching the bubble
of molten glass, seeing him reach for the forceps
he calls borselle to coax the emerging shape
of a tiny bird out of its red-hot nest.
Under the scagno, his work-bench, I glimpse
the broken wings and malformed heads
of the imperfect ones;
fragments of twisted perfume bottles
glinting like jewels
on the unswept floor beside the furnace.
They remind me of home
and the wastepaper basket under the desk
brimming over with shredded poems –
the ones I sometimes wish I hadn’t thrown away,
as they gnaw at my heart and stick in my craw
like little glass splinters under my skin.
He shakes his head.
I’m crying now; begging him not to reject
the tiny misshapen form.
He tosses it, still warm, in my direction.
“Mine?” I ask. But he’s already back at the glory-hole,
the glare of mass production Murano-style.
And I shall carry it home swaddled in cotton-wool,
as tenderly as I carried home my first-born
from the hospital.
I’m used to this – unflappable;
stroking the flattened head,
meeting the glassy stare,
pressing my lips to the rara avis;
“We shall fly!”