Women climb the mesa
searching for their source of clay. On their wrists
pails flash metallic fire while secrets
of the old craft inhabit their minds, Up here
the earth is blessed
meant to be scooped and sculpted
into works of functional grace, inspired
by wild things that become wild stories.
And the women know this approaching
the steep hill; the day handed down
in sudden discoveries as they watch
a butterfly fan the dust with its wings,
a ritual to revive the forgotten
and initiate change.
And further down in the rock cleft,
a rattler coils herself in the shades of sunrise.
Some believe she is the goddess
of beginnings who sheds her skin at dusk
and grows another at dawn
And the women know this
as they slowly rub the moist dirt
between their fingers contemplating
how they can paint a pattern of scales
on their bowls and flasks
The morning heat intensifies
as they feel a slender darkness crawl
slowly over them. The shadow of a wild cat.
The younger ones fear its presence
but the elders say its simply there
to remind them of the huntress
and what needs to be hunted . Always
the quiet, the peaceful, the will of ancestors
wanting to be articulated smoothly in art .
And the mothers honor this
warning their daughters what they must fear
is in the molding. Any thumb print or ridge
could ruin the process of recording
their tribal song, their animal souls.