Broken is Beautiful

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“For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”

-Achaan Chah, as reported by Mark Epstein

“Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

A lovely ceramic miso bowl that a friend brought back to me from Japan as a gift survived our move from California to England. Then one day it fell and shattered. We saved the pieces, thinking that we might try to repair it using the Japanese art of gold joinery called Kintsugi (金継ぎ). For my birthday, my sister bought me a New Kintsugi Repair Kit from a company in the Netherlands. You can see the results of this morning’s work below.

 

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The bowl now occupies pride of place in my home office. It is a reminder that impermanence can be inherently beautiful. It is a reminder that so-called mistakes can be transformed into something even more interesting than so-called perfection. It is a reminder to me that nothing is either permanent or irrevocable. It is a reminder that broken is beautiful.

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Letter to Leonard Cohen by Nancy Hechinger

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Nancy Hechinger’s chapbook has been a favourite re-read on my London commute. Like Kitty Jospé, Hechinger and I shared many a workshop roundtable in the Pacific University MFA program. And like Jospé, her work has rocketed forward in depth and quality owing to that time. But Hechinger’s poems embody a different take on femininity — a punchy, NYC-bred divorced-and-single-womanhood that is tough and tender all at once, where “we still sleep and read on the side of the bed / that was always ours, wonder if coming / alone is worth the pain of memory.” (“Early December”)

These are poems of homosocial collusion and collision. In “Jacks” the speaker tells us, “My mother was nifty, cool, gorgeous, / could scoop up fours-ies easy as ones-ies. / She was so close, I could almost touch her.” And “When Wives Dream,” she tells us, “We roared. / We snorted. The men turned around / to find out what was so funny. / We shut right up, stood, smoothed our skirts, / rearranged the salads, and asked them when / the hell the chicken would be done.”

But this short, snappy collection gains even keener focus when treating the rougher sex, who smell like “cumin” and “leather in the sun.” (“The Smell of Men”) Continue reading…

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