Responding to Pablo Neruda’s In Praise of Ironing

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I watched an old man work with clay.

Gather it in. Flatten it out.

Raise it up then smack it down,

releasing the bubbles, refining it.

He could make a vase beautiful

to remind us of love. Or a mask

whimsical to remind us of youth.

When he made plates, we forgot

the mundane secrets of our truth

and through that he gave us hope.

Then I saw a maker of tile and

watched him work the clay.

Gather it in. Flatten it out.

Raise it up then smack it down.

Releasing the bubbles, refining it.

Behind him: the stack of tiles.

Beyond that: rooftops resembling

a field paved orange. Clay tiles

no longer dreaming

of an artisan’s hands.

—Tim Bryant