Mothers and Daughters: Terra Cotta

Peering into the narrow compact
Rectangle reflecting back:
The rumpled face of a woman
……….whose father is dying;
……….whose mother will die.

Under chin skin slags, begins
To give up the ghost of a woman
……….whose skin was once full
……….and firm as an egg.

Now, like a plastic bag full of slip,
When squeezed in the right places takes on
Then, temporary grace of a woman
……………who will also die;

Falling away into potsherds, unfired.
Falling away into sand, into clay.

by Bonnie McClellan

Tic - photo: Bonnie Broussard, sculpture: Matthew Broussard

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.


  1. These lines show a very close observation of pottery processes; most interesting and thought-provoking. I find those photos equally fascinating and the perfect complement.

    1. Thanks John, my husband is a sculptor and I helped him slip-cast a group of these terracotta hands for one of his projects. The fragility of the greenware in contrast to the fired clay was one of the inspirations for this poem. I also found the plaster mold a fascinating object and couldn’t resist photographing it.

    1. Oh no, pull yourself together and get fired up! I was in the process of making these terracotta hands for Matthew when I took a train trip to a town up the way and was watching all of the ladies of different ages looking in their compacts as they started to arrive at their destinations…we’re all coming unglued, just in different places.

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