Jennifer K. Sweeney

(1973 / Tolland / United States)

History of Glass


I don't have to remind you of destruction
or how far away from origins
we travel each day,
but consider the prismatic faith
that led the first Iraqi to alchemize
an ashy sand in mantle-heat,
leaden rod dripping with—
what to call it?—
not sand nor fire,
but honey cooled to stone:
glass.

Consider the weight
of that glass bead in his palm,
the moment when only he
understood what he'd made.

Centuries later an Egyptian artisan
poured the iridescent lava into molds.
Think symmetry, cascade, gradation.
Think juice glass, vase.
Swirled with ochre, cobalt and haloed
of its own inner beam.
Mixed with uranium, it glowed the eerie citron
of beetle-swarms in black light.

Follow that molten glass to Rome
where it became blown breath,
a pipe offered to the fire.
How intimate as the crafter gathered
the air in his lungs and sent it
fluted, dragon-like toward what matter
was rapidly going solid, a single exhale—
to expire—small death, blown bowl.

Submitted: Monday, August 25, 2014

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