Pulling to Center

I recently took a pottery class-- once a week for five weeks I got to spend an hour or so thwacking cold wet clay down onto a plaster slab, kneading it into a cyclone, and thumping it down onto a wheel. Elbow cocked to hip, setting it spinning, and then praying, bracing, holding the slick hard lumpy mound. It spins and throbs and pushes against my hands, but I have to hold still-- bracing against the hard mass of clay-- without shoving or jerking-- just holding. Try to find true north, try to float above the pull of gravity-- that's holding still against this thing. One hand pulls up slowly, one hand pushes down and out and after a few lip-biting climbs and descents-- suddenly the thing is centered.
Then I put one finger on the still piko of the mound-- and push down into that navel. The lump opens suddenly into a pot. And then draw the walls up, flare them out, pull them in. It becomes recognizable as a Thing. Every time is like a miracle. Even if they are all tiny and off-kilter!
All day today I was thinking about that struggle of centering the clay-- the moment of the clay suddenly pulling itself in, sucking all the irregularities out of orbit and becoming a unified form.
I've been spinning out wide lately-- keeping endless lists that I lose, buying things I don't need-- wanting and wishing, scilia flailing.
Today I wanted to pull to center. So instead of driving to Costco, I pushed the stroller to the farmers market. I bought longan and breadfruit and dill and asperagus and cherimoya and ginger and bananas and bok choy. On the way home I stopped at grungy little Sueokas for two gallons of milk (on sale at $5 each! Much better than the usual $10)-- one to drink and one to make yogurt.
After that walk (and boiling the breadfruit to a starchy buttery mash, like artichoke hearts crossed with potato) Rosie and I stayed home-- we played with our chicks (getting ugly now, with their teenage feathers growing where no feathers were before), transplanted the onions and trout-back lettuce into the new little garden beds. I took the rake to the orange tree to brush away all of the crab-spider webs (dense and extending from powerlines, porch, trees) and tried to pop those few choice ripe oranges down from the top without getting a shelob in the neck.
I washed laundry and hung it up to dry in the garage. Rosie defoliated my young papaya tree but successfully disrobed and peed in the grass-- a little nitrogen rich snack for the plants.
When it got dark we came inside and I thought-- who am I-- a woman who hangs laundry and washes chicken shit off her hands at the end of the day? Hah!
We took a hot shower and Rosie had me write "R for Rosio Jo!" on the glass, smoothing out the droplets into a letter for a second.


  1. It takes a whole lot of shit to get centered.

  2. I love working clay as well, and it teaches so much to the inside YOU....centering and pulling in...turning out a bowl of Love for your family is the most lovely spirit dishes you can make.


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