Evening. She crouches, puts a flame to scrunched up news, throws the spent match into the fireplace, adds kindling, returns the matchbox to the pot on the mantelpiece. The little pot, a teabowl, its blueness mined from deep time, her choice from the firing, as was the custom. The teabowl, brimming with memories – his hands cupping clay as it spins on the wheel, cross-hatched incisions, slipped, glazed, fired.
She goes to the window, shuts out the dark, returns to the fire. The kindling has caught. She squats, adds logs, sits hugging her shins, chin resting on knees.
Firings, rituals of mystery and magic, always at night. Long cold nights of woolly hats, gloves, stamping feet, anticipation, excitement, exhaustion. The kiln packed, lit, smoke disappearing into blackness. She would watch as he checked cones for bending, fed wood into the firebox, removed the bung to reveal the frenzied dance of flames licking pots. The alchemy of fire.
Her face is burning and she stands warming her back. Bricks from the dismantled kiln now support the mantelpiece where her teabowl sits. The teabowl, brimming with memories – his hands cupping her head, shaping the contours of her body, exploring, searching, entering. Visceral piercings, pain, scars.
The fire is scorching her jeans. She turns cautiously, fabric burning her calves. She lifts her arms, continues turning – one way, then the other – until she is cooked.