Spanish Moss and Moonlight
The shape on paper was hers, light pencil tracings of the first ideas of how the moss would hang in front of the moon, the humid haze would hover in the luxuriant Louisiana sky. Now he was shaping it in three dimensions, his fingers and hands working together, centering, centering, pressing, smoothing the Lake Pontchartrain clay; his strong left leg powering the treadle, the wheel spinning, the vase rising from a shapeless lump of earth into an almost living, an almost organic form.
“Pinch in the neck,” she said, “there above that rounded shoulder that suggests the tops of the trees--constrict the clay into a sharply defined ring, a cylindrical edge that will pronounce: Here is a vase--a form with a hollowness, with emptiness, inside it. The blue and pale lighted circle of trees I have in mind will hold within that hollow space where all vases hide their secrets, the mystery of moonlit nights and bayous.”
She carries off the green ware, places it on her turntable and begins to shave off strips of clay, layers of clay, snippets of clay that drop to the workbench, leaving strands of moss to fall from the trees. As clay curls off the edge of her embossing knife, the live oaks and bald cypress rise, their branches woven, and everywhere the Spanish moss, drapes, droops, caresses the tree forms, bounds the growing image from above the way bayou trees frame the southern night skies.
With the first firing, the vase turns white as the fullest moon, ready for the glaze. The blues, pale, paler, palest, separate sky and foliage, shape and void, turn black bayou waters into a moonlit blue sheen, mark the sky for radiance with flowing silken glaze. The trees across the water loom upward, reaching, reaching, and the round moon hides behind fingers of moss, the deepest blue moss, moss that loves live oaks and warm nights and calling owls and chirping tree frogs.
And then the final fire, the kiln blazing, clay and glazes merging, capturing in the chemistry of ceramics and heat a moment of time, making it a piece of forever, burning into reality an imagining of shape and form and color and shadings. Oh, yes, here is what she saw before she began to sketch. And here is what his fingers felt before he took up the clay. Here is what they made, together, from earth and fire and memories, from Spanish moss, from live oaks, from moonlight.
Roy Beckemeyer lives in Wichita, Kansas His poems have appeared in a variety of print and on-line literary journals including Beecher's Magazine, Chiron Review, Coal City Review, Dappled Things, Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Kansas City Voices, The Light Ekphrastic, The Midwest Quarterly, The North Dakota Quarterly, The Syzygy Poetry Review, and Zingara. His book of poetry, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Review and Press, Lawrence, KS, 2014) was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He won the Beecher's Magazine Poetry Contest in 2014, and the Kansas Voices Poetry Award in 2016.
The Ekphrastic Review
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