Pottery and Religion – a poem by Melaney Poli

Pottery and Religion
after Les Murray

Religions are pots. They disconcert
our whole abstracted business, our
insistence on intellect, brains, idols of IQ

into the only whole thinking: pottery.
Nothing’s said till it’s spelled out in motion
with the body, and nothing’s true that’s not done.

A pot, compared with an arrayed religion,
may be like the sky on any perfect morning
just before the light changes. But that is a small religion.

Full religion is a pot formed upon the whole wheel of creation:
like any pot, it must be dialogue and complete
with starry turns where we ask Now why did the potter…?

You can’t pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn;
you can’t throw one either. It is the same logos:
heaven in ordinary, we call it pottery,

the ordinary heaven, we call it religion,
and God shatters the pottery of any religion—
shatters, not destroys. Shatters into sherds

for each bearer to remake together, being in the world as 
the center is in the pot, a law against circumference.
There’ll always be religion around while there is pottery

or a lack of it. Both are of the earth, and a dance of partners,
as the skilled action of those bodies that are one enough
and courteous with the clay, to let it say the pot.

Melaney Poli is an artist, writer, and Episcopalian nun. She is the author of the accidental book of poems You Teach Me Light: Slightly Dangerous Poems and an accidental novel, Playing a Part.

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