Speaking with the Dead

For many months now I have been working on a body of work that incorporates my late father's pottery with my own work. I then wrote poems to go with these collaborative pieces addressed to my father. It seems befitting on the last day of Dia de los Muertos, All Souls day, and the day after Samhain to share this work.

"Held"

Ceramics: Gary Zur

Pillow pedestals: Rachael Zur

Vessels that once held food and drink

now hold the nourishment

of memory.

What appears empty is

filled with all the ideas

of you that we can’t let go of.

It is like you are with us,

in a piece of river clay

and the current of time cannot wash it

from our grasp.

"Marking Time"

Ceramics: Gary Zur

Medical casted shelf: Rachael Zur

Clocks and hearts keep

a rhythm that chants

of future.

Though hearts can still

continue their beat

even with a gaping hole.

Future comes while we

sit alone with our grief.

Our hearts still beating and breaking.

“Still Here”

Ceramic lamp: Gary Zur

insulation covered foam letters and shelf: Rachael Zur

(In a small puddle of lamp light

Any thought is safe to entertain.

I can look at a picture of you

And ask if you could be near me.

When my cat nudges my arm

I jump thinking it was you.

“Valley as Vessel”

Ceramics: Gary Zur

Foam shelf with packing materials: Rachael Zur

Fog hugs favored patches of topography,

hanging above the trees like a ghost.

I too have made a ghost that hugs my thoughts.

the desire to know you haunts my thinking.

I move through this bowl, the Willamette Valley,

A vessel that contains us both.

I am free to come and go for now,

You remain still.

“1980”

Ceramics: Gary Zur

Foam and pillow shelf: Rachael Zur

Happy 70thBirthday

To my not quite 32-year-old father

From his 38-year-old daughter.

"Ghosts and Telephones"

Ceramic goblets: Gary Zur

Plastic structure: Rachael Zur

Who is ghost to

to whom?

Neither of us knowing the other.

Is the space between

life and death

really so vast?

As though pottery is a telephone,

I hold the object,

and you pick up on the other line.

The connection on the phone

Works just fine;

What you’re hearing is a generation gap.

"In Your Absence"

The cups you made,

(which I sipped water from at the dinner table,)

asked me about my days.

It has only been

through your ceramics, that

I have known you.

Running my finger along indentations in the clay,

where your hands had been,

it is as though our hands touch.

Your pottery insists that I not

allow for our conversation to be

long or complicated.

I ask it: can I yell across

eternity and create

an echo that my father can hear?

My grief for you makes me ridiculous,

and I build a time machine

out of bubble wrap and foam.

I put your pottery on the time machine

so that I can bring you to me

for this one occasion.

Here, in your absence,

our work makes a memory

of the two of us together.

Ceramic cups which have held

water and dreams of mine,

are now cradled in my own work.

I carefully pad the place,

where remaining pieces of your pottery,

and your memory can rest.

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© 2020 by RACHAEL ZUR.