It is not miraculous. Only a handful of silica, fire,
and then the blower twirls another knob of gold
on his metal pontil, dipping the tip into a pot
inlaid with spikes to make the burning globe
twist in upon itself as the man breathes out
and a thick neck bulges, wreathes into a spiral
like a unicorn horn; but we’re bored, he’s
bored, blowing and blowing the same shape over.
It takes no effort. He stares off through one
of the factory windows as he does it, beneath a sign,
No Flash, a red line drawn through a cartoon camera
to indicate the work is private, dangerous.
The man’s tongs pinch out a chest, a neck, the crowd
applauding each development though it has seen
the same thing around the corner.
We know what will come next. The man
reaches into the bright elastic to yank
a fat neck forward, to pinch out hair, a shovel-
shaped face; to pull out one thin, bent leg
and then another, the glass itself now tinged with ash
as the fire runs out of it, dimming to topaz,
caramel. He splashes water on the irons
to make them smoke. It must be dangerous, this
material, or why else would we watch?
The blower has a bald patch, earrings, scars.
He dips his tongs once more into the figure
and out come back legs, a tail. The neck twists
and now the little face has a mouth that’s open,
screaming. The tail’s curled filament starts to thread
as the pontil pulls away. You want to say
“like taffy,” but don’t. It is not sweet.
Only a spark of heat and then the inevitable
descending numbness. Someone laughs.
Someone takes a photo. For a moment, the room
fills with light behind which we hear
the scissor’s dulling snap.
Our senses return stretched thinner, fine.
We can almost feel the shattering of the glass.

More by Paisley Rekdal

Bats

unveil themselves in dark.
They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright
as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen
like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make
in women who can’t fill them up.

A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.
They drink fruit dry.

And wheel, against feverish light flung hard
upon their faces,

in circles that nauseate.
Imagine one at breast or neck,

Patterning a name in driblets of iodine
that spatter your skin stars.

They flutter, shake like mystics.
They materialize. Revelatory

as a stranger’s underthings found tossed
upon the marital bed, you tremble

even at the thought. Asleep,
you tear your fingers

and search the sheets all night.

Intimacy

How horrible it is, how horrible
that Cronenberg film where Goldblum's trapped

with a fly inside his Material
Transformer: bits of the man emerging

gooey, many-eyed; bits of the fly
worrying that his agent's screwed him–

I almost flinch to see the body later
that's left its fly in the corner, I mean

the fly that's left its body, recalling too
that medieval nightmare, Resurrection,

in which each soul must scurry
to rejoin the plush interiors of its flesh,

pushing through, marrying indiscriminately
because Heaven won't take what's only half:

one soul blurring forever
into another body.

If we can't know the boundaries between ourselves
in life, what will they be in death,

corrupted steadily by maggot,
rain or superstition, by affection

that depends on memory to survive?
People should keep their hands to themselves

for the remainder of the flight: who needs
some stranger's waistline, joint

problems or insecurities? Darling,
what I love in you I pray will always stay

the hell away from me.

Self-Portrait as Mae West One-Liner

I'm no moaning bluet, mountable
linnet, mumbling nun. I'm
tangible, I'm gin. Able to molt
in toto, to limn. I'm blame and angle, I'm
lumbago, an oblate mug gone notable,
not glum. I'm a tabu tuba mogul, I'm motile,
I'm nimble. No gab ennui, no bagel bun-boat: I'm one
big mega-ton bolt able to bail
men out. Gluten iamb. Male bong unit.
I'm a genial bum, mental obi, genital
montage. I'm Agent Limbo, my blunt bio
an amulet, an enigma. Omit elan. Omit bingo.
Alien mangle, I'm glib lingo. Untangle me,
tangelo. But I'm no angel.