What to leave spinning by Merie Kirby

What to leave spinning

Sometimes the wheel is spinning at the right speed,
the clay has just enough water on it, your hands
feel like they have hit their groove, and one
lovely bowl is sitting on the shelf in front of you,
but this next bowl somehow wobbles,
the sides go thick-thin-thick and trying to fix it
leads to a complete collapse of one side.
Stop the wheel. Cut free the clay.
Wad it up and set it aside. Later you will
wedge it, work out excess water, return it
to what it was before you started throwing it.
Even pots thrown well can break when dried,
but if it isn’t fired yet you can soak it,
return it to clay, raw materials, potential.
Like the line that was the only thing that worked
in that poem about sun breaking through rain –
Wad up the other words, set them aside,
but leave laughter after tears on the wheel.


Merie Kirby earned her M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Grand Forks, ND and teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Dog Runs On and The Thumbelina Poems. In 2016 and 2013 she received North Dakota Council on the Arts Individual Artist Grants. Her poems have appeared in Quartet Journal, Sheila-na-gig Online, and other journals, with work forthcoming in West Trade Review and Mom Egg Review.