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Lay for the Day
19th July

The feast of Saints Justa and Rufina. They were sisters in the city of Seville, and potters. When they refused to make some pots for use in a ceremony for Venus, their irate would-be customers smashed all their wares. The sisters in return smashed an image of the goddess. They were condemned as Christians and martyred, circa AD287. They are patron saints of Seville, and of potters.

Potter’s Child

The baby red
as clay asleep
in her arms and
she too can sleep

to all but him.
I dip my hands
in the whirling
nub. A cup stands

and opens, slip
easing the birth.
I flare the lip,
shaped to the mouth.

Prophets who railed
at statuary
saw man’s making
in potter’s art.

A jar gracious
as Adam fills
out and rises
then, wobbling, spills

its centre, in-
jured and flailing.
I sweep the lump
from the wheel and

start another.
Adam, awake
to the hunger
he squirms to slake,

suckles. I dare
the form higher
then free its foot
with wire gently.

May this gravid
Eve of a vase
survive firing,
glow in its glaze.


John Gibbens
from Characters: One Life

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar