Writing the Distance: Monica Devine

The Covid 19 pandemic is isolating Alaskan writers. We can no longer attend workshops or public readings. The coffee bars where we met with other writers are closed. To bridge these physical gaps, 49 Writers is providing this on-line forum for Alaskans writing the distance. Today’s poem and photograph were created by poet and ceramic artist Monica Devine.

She came out of the fire shock-eyed and half-baked
The gaze I created stared back at me 
as if to say, what? what now?
What do we do now?
Engobes and washes and patina, black
like the desert varnish on the surface of a rock.
It’s simple, I tell her
we take form, we weather, and tarnish
in place.
It is a whole-body experience 
the build-up and forming of malleable clay, and then 
there’s the subtraction
            the canceling of all that’s extraneous, unnecessary.
            We build and we coil and we bend, and then
            witness our cracking in the plainest of ways, all of it
falls apart, fades away.
In the long run 
potters and poets know their place
baking bread in a micaceous clay pot
secret mark-making in the lines of a poem.
In the short run 
the cure for isolation, loneliness is this:
kiln-love, patience, and a soft #2.

Monica Devine’s recent book Water Mask, is a collection of Alaskan stories about motherhood, place, memory, art and perception in the natural world. monicadevine.com

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