Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Things That Have Been in the Fire

Today's prompt on The Daily Post is "Object."   The object that came to mind for me was an Elephant Ear sponge.

How's that for odd?  Actually, I wrote about, and posted a Marvin Bell poem about this sponge in some blog here a number of years ago.  So I am posting it again.  I love this poem.

Here's the sponge:

Here's a potter using the sponge:
Here's the poem, by Marvin Bell:
Drawn by Stones, by Earth, by Things that Have Been in the Fire

I can tell you about this because I have held in my hand
the little potter’s sponge called an “elephant ear.”
Naturally, it’s only a tiny version of an ear,
but its the thing you want to pick up out of the toolbox
when you wander into the deserted ceramics shop
down the street from the cave where the fortune-teller works.
Drawn by stones, by earth, by things that have been in the fire.

The elephant ear listens to the side of the vase
as it is pulled upwards from a dome of muddy clay.
The ear listens to the outside wall of the pot
and the hand listens to the inside wall of the pot,
and between them a city rises out of dirt and water.
Inside this city live the remains of animals,
animals who prepared two hundred years to be clay.

Rodents make clay, and men wearing spectacles make clay,
though the papers they were signing go up in flames
and nothing more is known of these long documents
except by those angels who devine in our ashes.
Kings and queens of the jungle make clay
and royalty and politicians make clay although
their innocence stays with their clothes until unravelled.

There is a lost soldier in every ceramic bowl.
The face on the dinner plate breaks when the dish does
and lies for centuries unassembled in the soil.
These things that have the right substance to begin with,
put into the fire at temperatures that melt glass,
keep their fingerprints forever, it is said,
like inky sponges that walk away in the deep water.

– Marvin Bell

Maybe this poem came to me today because yesterday in my Modernity class I taught them about World War II and the bombing of Dresden.  This was in preparation for our class tomorrow on Slaughterhouse Five.

I'll try to talk more about this tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

So Glad for March

On Leap Day, yesterday, the president of the university where I teach resigned.  This is a long story that I just don't feel like telling here. 

I think his resignation is for the best, but I still have mixed feelings about the way it came about.

Today I was really enraged by some of the remarks of one of the young alums on Facebook.   I taught this fellow when he was a freshman, and he graduated about ten years ago. I remember him in class and on campus as he still is:  self-righteous, bombastic, and obnoxious. There: I've said it. 

and furthermore,

and also,

I feel better this evening because I spent a good deal of time today out in the garden in the woods, beating back the poison ivy and other tenacious vines, and raking a mountain of leaves.  Great energy release!

I am so happy that Spring is coming.