My ceramics teacher, Enedina, takes her job seriously, and guides us as if we are children–because we are in this art form. She tells me, “Wash your hands; dry them,” and I obey. She commands us to tell stories, funny ones. Her doctor has prescribed more laughter. But it is hard enough to shape the black clay and impossible to simultaneously form sentences in Spanish.

We must make a pot. This is essential to learning how to slide first an index finger and then a thumb into the moist, but not wet, ball we’ve formed.

I relax into it, listening to her explain that things made by hand are really made by the heart. “Do you understand?” She pauses to ask, and I think, yes, but my brain is having trouble seeing this deformed container as anything presentable. She sees this in my eyes and suggests I crumple it up, start again, feel my way through this. Revise.

I decide that I should make a heart. And it is not entirely horrible. But it breaks in the sun. I think about how the universe can be so less than subtle sometimes.

She rushes to perform a surgery and keeps an eye on me as I sculpt a fragile flower that is already almost crumbs.





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