NOVEMBER 16, 2012
It is not miraculous. Only a handful of silica, fire,
and then the blower twirls another knob of gold
on his metal pontil, dipping the tip into a pot
inlaid with spikes to make the burning globe
twist in upon itself as the man breathes out
and a thin neck bulges, wreathes into a spiral
like a unicorn’s horn; but we’re bored, he’s
bored, blowing and blowing the same shape over.
It takes no effort. He stares off through one
of the factory windows as he does it, beneath a sign,
No flash, a red line drawn through a cartoon camera
to indicate the work is private, dangerous.
The man’s tongs pinch out a chest, a neck, the crowd
applauding each development though it has seen
the same thing in the shop around the corner.
We know what will come next. The man
reaches into the molten elastic to yank
a fat neck forward, to pinch out hair, a shovel-
shaped face; to pull out one thin, bent leg
and then another, the glass itself now tinged with ash
as the fire runs out of it, dimming to topaz,
caramel. He splashes water on the iron
to make it smoke. It must be dangerous, this
material, or why else would we watch?
The blower has a bald patch, earrings, scars.
He dips his tongs once more into the figure
and out come back legs, a tail. The neck twists
and now the little face has a mouth that’s open,
screaming. Transparent hooves tear into the air.
The tail’s curled filament starts to thread
as the pontil pulls away. You want to say
“like taffy,” but don’t. It is not sweet.
Only a spark of heat and then the inevitable
descending numbness. Someone laughs.
Someone takes a photo. For a moment the room
fills with light behind which we can hear
the scissors’s dulling snap.
We can almost feel the shattering of the glass.
This poem appeared in the December 6, 2012 issue of the magazine.