Furnace accents in his dyed ponytail, the silver-sleeved gaffer breathes life
into his gather-tipped posthorn, pendulums it to stir and stretch
another glowing soda-sand foetus into growth,
accosts the glare of the glory-hole for just enough heat to spin the magic:
he stands, glances down at pale legs and worn trainers
stares jaded through the window at the winter tourist traffic
and on out into next weekend’s dream-drama
like a checkout assistant whose flat look crawls over your shoulder,
while he spins and he breathes and he spins the pipe intimately.
From the viewing gallery, worshippers gaze diminished, deskilled,
looking down into the heated bear-pit where the half-dressed heroes prowl
and dance intuitively from box furnace to gaffer’s chair,
forming the gather in the dripping wet cherrywood block
rolling the raw glow into life.
As the golden parison inflates and blooms,
as the pipe rolls and returns across the marver,
as the rings are spun on, as the colours are changing,
as soaked pads of last week’s Guardian polish and shape,
the gaffer never rests, a tattooed Tantalus,
chair to glory hole to chair, rolling, measuring, rolling, breathing, rolling,
a squirt from the airline, a polish from the pads, rolling,
conformity confirmed by practised eye through didymium lens.
Split-second collusive, the mate lines up his punty spot on,
the gaffer steadies it dead-centre with the pucellas
and together they roll and pierce the already brittling orb,
transfer it from pipe to punty, shear away and reshape the neck,
and check the spec with a final flourish of the dividers:
time to crack off the work.
Light chipchop around the neck then a single meaty tap a foot up the punty
and the perfect dome drops away, sits ready for its cooling therapy in the lehr.
Even as the door closes the next gather is being rolled, cajoled,
the production line tango resumes.
For days the images sear across your mind,
the metamorphosis sits brooding:
ponder the shift from fusion to fragility,
from shapeless sand to perfect artefact.