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The Edge of Damage

Heather Swan

Heather Swan has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been the recipient of The Wisconsin Center for the Book Bookmark Award, the August Derleth Award, a Martha Meier Renk Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Finalist Award. Her poems have appeared in The Cream City Review, Iris, Mothering Magazine, Dossier Journal, Outlet, Forward, Wisconsin People and Ideas, The Wisconsin Poet Calendar, and The Comstock Review, among others.

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for my mother

From the mud in her hands,
the bowl was born.
Opening like a flower
in an arch of petals,
then becoming a vessel
both empty and full.

Later, in the kiln
it was ravaged by fire,
its surface etched and vitrified,
searing the glaze into glass
as its body turned
to stone.

It is at the edge of damage
that beauty is honed.
And in Japan,
the potter tells me,
when a tea bowl
cracks in the fire,
that crack is filled
with gold.