Carin Perron: Poems & Prose
Clay and Silver
The Mirror Tries to Understand

This was the second poem in the series that I wrote, but the poem I originally showed to its subject, and the one you see here now, are two quite different poems. All that is left from that older version is the first stanza, the title, and the general concept of the mirror. I found this poem very difficult to write: nothing I did with it really worked. It was a case of a poem trying to do something I wasn't ready to do: I had to grow into it in some way. What I was attempting to do was to get some distance from my subject, be objective, and not get myself muddled up in with the observation.

Clay and Silver came to be about my inability to transcend myself and do justice to my subject, though that was not my original intention. In a sense, it is a failed poem, and a poem about failing; in another sense, I think it works on its own terms, despite my original intentions for it. Actually, "Afterimage" was really the poem I was trying to write, but that insight came much, much later.

Some people have had difficulty with the central image, which is of a mirror (and its maker, the Silverer) watching a potter throwing a pot on the wheel: in trying to touch the image, she reaches through the glass, and shatters it. The information about the potting itself is accurate enough, as the subject throws very soft clay on a slow wheel, and puts the dried clay through many rounds of glazing, seeing himself even more as a "clay-glazer" than as a potter. He does not sign his work, since it is "signed all over" with his hands.

"Clay and Silver" has a bit of an amusing history, since I worried it to death over a period of six years. I had writer friends and acquaintances who would read my stuff, but after a while they all added one proviso, "No more versions of Clay and Silver!"; one lone friend, David Maulsby, stuck it out with me, and heroically read every last version till the very last one. When he said, "I think you've got it," I finally stopped, sick of the thing as much as anyone else was, but glad it was all over.
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