Katherine Sanchez Espano: "Glassmaking"



Among us children, Suzie’s glass eye
was a topic as hot as any alcohol lamp
softening once virgin glass, and I saw
Suzie’s heart stretching too thin
under the heat of their words,
the girl who would talk instead
to the hickory tree, saying
things we didn’t care to know
at the time, while the rest of us
just wanted to crack open the sweet nuts,
those green husks festooned
with teeth marks from squirrels
that, like us, tried opening them
too soon. We gave up and returned
to our desks, scissoring easy paper
into dolls joined hand in hand
forever it seemed.

Our teacher spoke of glassmaking,
how elms, basswood, hickory, and beech
were burned and boiled, and finally
in the annealer’s questioning warmth,
reborn as bottles, pendants, and windows.
The branches of Suzie’s hickory tree
were bent like diamond sheers,
ready to clip their own leaves,
a necessary sacrifice before the snow
cooled their bark and the sky was ash.
When no one looked, I slipped
a necklace of glass beads
into Suzie’s pocket.
She wore the necklace everyday,
her glass eye another jewel
only she and I could see.


Katherine Sanchez Espano's poems have appeared in Green Mountains Review, Lake Effect, Massachusetts Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Sycamore Review, Yemassee, and elsewhere.