Jar Song

Don Bogen

How could I calm the ache
that drifted through my sleep?
A plain ceramic jar,
rounded at the lip,
seemed to offer hope.

It stood there in the dream,
complete, outside of time:
a heavy brown-gray shape
on a table top–
no chairs, no floor, no room.

What was it doing there?
Where had it come from?
I knew somehow I’d spent
my whole life making it,
step after deepening step.

I rolled the coils of clay.
I looped them on the wheel.
I spun and smoothed, my palms
clay-pale and slick with wash.
I watched the vessel grow.

Glazed, permanent, it stood,
defining all I’d made:
a single empty jar
too perfect for the fear
I hoped it might contain.

Don Bogen is author of five books of poetry, including Luster, An Algebra, and Immediate Song. He is Nathaniel Ropes Professor Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, and serves as editor-at-large of The Cincinnati Review.
Originally published:
October 1, 2018

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