Clay Walls by Veronica Lupinacci
you didn’t mean to make snakes,
but that’s what everyone else saw. You spread clay
on a wall and watched as weeks evaporated mud cracked
a slithering path you named River.
I meant to wait for a love sleeping in the dirt. I felt
the pull of it—that river under the earth. You say
A river is not bound to water,
It’s the flow, not the water
Hiking the Peten Jungle through rivers
of mud up to my thighs I imagined my love’s
face in front of mine. I followed him. My boots
caked in slick gray Mayan clay and his head above
the trail, floating beyond my stride. His sweat
dripped from the vines—sweetened the rising
smell of mule shit. Andy, in 1992
you covered the floor of a London gallery in clay. Then
in ’96, a wall in San Francisco. You thought the clay would
crumble, but it held on. You say
It remains fixed to this day
Despite the occasional earthquake
You learned how cracking time over surface earth gives
birth to channels beneath. You let time teach the art about
patience. I know this--
for five years I sat staring at a wall covered in mud, trying
to draw out my river. Trying to suck the moisture
with only my eyes. To me, it was the Nile under there.
Though I was flood-white under neon
light I imagined the green basin around me. I opened
my eyes like red lotus flowers. And just yesterday,
the moment the air syphoned all the water
from the clay I could hear the dry pop
and then nothing. My Nile scene sunk
out of view. I was only sitting in a carved canoe
on a museum floor. No river swelling beneath.
Just the outline of all those years in clay.
The snaking path: a drying relic of two
parallel cracks: one forever chasing the other up a wall.
Veronica Lupinacci grew up in Sarasota, Florida. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has taught writing at the university, high school, middle school, and elementary level. Her poems have recently appeared in The McNeese Review, Haiku Journal, The Pinch, Northwind, and Eunoia Review.
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