The Glass Globe

by Margaret Gibson

Wanting to begin again, a form of denial, I copy from a book
rearranging the words with a shaking hand . . .
This morning from where I sit, the rug is dark blue and burgundy
brighter where a length of full sun from the east window falls
On the shelf of the bay window a large glass globe, hand blown
the color of air over the shallows of the Sound summer mornings
shimmers, it all but floats . . . This morning, glad of it, I’m not going
anywhere, content as the globe fills with the quiet simplicity of light
This glass globe—it’s a made thing, a synthesis of sand and fire, air
and muscle and lung and tool, a flaring of energies joined
and transformed, and because of the quality of attention
that went into it, beautiful. And it rests in a precarious place
I have to move it as I open the windows. I shift it when I dust, and if
I’m not careful, my mood hard and angular, I may knock against it . . .
And this is history— this is prose. My prose, words
in a book now out of print, words underlined by my husband
whose hand now is ash in a wood-fired ceramic jar
Except for me, everyone who came to our wedding is
dead. I’m in another house now. The glass globe rests in another
morning’s light. Each morning, I walk out of this house to stand
alone in the quiet of these woods, whose leaf-rumpled
earth, so long ago now, was cleared and planted, grazed, hayed
harvested, abandoned—before that, scraped clean
by the sharp edge of the glacier; before that, marsh and sediment
before that, shoal and sea depth; before that, stone. When I take
my shoes off, my bare feet touch granite that was here
before leafy decay and woods-earth formed. Now I stand on it
shaken—I’ve done it, the fault is mine. I remember a Chinese sage
holding up a ceramic bowl, smaller than the globe in my window
but beautiful (therefore, the same—everything that partakes
of beauty is the same) and this gentlest of sages smiled as
he said, “The bowl is already broken.” And he meant, live with it
that way— love it, love it crazed
and cracked, love it broken. Because everything, everything
already is. Broken. And—was it moments ago? Dusting, I lifted
the glass globe, and when, even gently, I set it down, it cracked . . .
despite generations of care and abuse, it cracked, now
two fault lines rising from the base nearly to the lip, and here’s
the crazy miracle . . . it holds. It still holds. But do the math
estimate probability, run the numbers, run out of the house appalled,
then stand here, bare feet on raw granite, from which a whispered
certainty—“We’re done for”—rises razor-thin through flesh and bone
then lodges, a splinter of glass, in my throat . . .

Last updated November 03, 2022