the thing you must remember

The thing you must remember is how, as a child,
you worked hours in the art room, the teacher’s
hands over yours, molding the little clay dog.
You must remember how nothing mattered
but the imagined dog’s fur, the shape of his ears
and his paws. The gray clay felt dangerous,
your small hands were pressing what you couldn’t
say with your limited words. When the dog’s back
stiffened, then cracked to white shards
in the kiln, you learned how the beautiful
suffers from too much attention, how clumsy
a single vision can grow, and fragile
with trying too hard. The thing you must
remember is the art teacher’s capable
hands:  large, rough and grainy,
over yours, holding on.

from:  Cold Comfort  (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986)