he didn’t come to get me though it is late. i shouldn’t have left his car the way things were. he wasn’t a reactive angry

but inactive. and me, a creative. or so i liked to think, but as the clay

slipped through my hands, and i tried to pull it into shape, it fought

and stayed inert. a misshapen plate as i tried to push out the anger deep and deeper into the wheel.

waving off the friends at the community center as i promise i have a ride. a six mile walk through the woods of two towns before i would be back at our apartment and the fight would start again.

i cannot wrap my hands around his neck and quiet him to submission as i can unfired ceramic.

morgan—who teaches the class—hangs back another hour, hour and a half, as i pretend to still be waiting. she is compassionate and understanding

and i hate it in this moment. empathy is an unwelcome house guest who puts his feet on the coffee table and ashes cigarettes in my mugs.

she is making conversation and making conversation and making conversation. out of nothing. she contorts me, obliges me to respond, and i yield to her hand.

she heats me all the way through. she forces me to accept her warmth.

when two hours arrives she is invasive. demanding. her empathy now has a price and it is that i must accept a ride.

i am playing a part and i accept. i am playing a part and i go to the community center and learn pottery. i am playing a part and i

have a boyfriend of six years who i fight and fight with and have no conclusion to the fights other than the day changes, we run out of insults.

i am playing a part where i am a potter. i live on the verge of breakdown and shape violent tension into a home.

morgan has a hatchback with shit in the backseat. she apologizes for the mess. i apologize that she is driving me. she apologizes that i am in this situation.

i do not apologize for that.

she has the radio on and is listening to talk radio about how people live very different lives in very different places. i am

thinking about what is inside my house. thinking about how it is filled with a 1200 degree heat but we never grow firm. we are weak. we are malleable. we cannot help put try to force the other one into our shape.

the people in different places say different things about their different lives. morgan says “ah” where she should. morgan says “wow” where she should. morgan laughs where she should.

i am not the only victim of her compassion. it bangs at everyone’s doors and tries the knob when it is not greeted.

what would morgan say if she heard me when i swore at him.

when i called his mother a bitch.

when i called him a fat pig.

what if she knew the reason he did not come tonight is that he said he was leaving me finally. he was freeing himself from my interventions. i would not be able to press his beliefs into shapes that better suited mine any longer.

i said in his car on the way to class that i would kill him. no, kill myself before he could break apart the home i had slaved over in 6 weeks of pottery classes and 6 years of life.

her empathy would leave the house finally, fast food wrappers and used condoms in the guest room.

“it’s vine and not cooper street,” she asks into the windshield.

and i feel it there. i feel it come over me again.

i will not go there. i am afraid. i am afraid to see him. i am afraid to not see him.

and i am afraid of her empathy. i am afraid it has sunk into me, stained me. i can feel where it has glazed over a part of hate’s raw nerve.

what if i go home and do not fight? what if i finally give way to him?

the water evaporates out of my body. the foreign organic matter that has seeped in over the years is expelled in a single breath. i feel the subatomic particles contract into place. i am rigid. i am taut.

“it’s vine—”

and i make her mine. i am the potter.

my hands are on the steering wheel, pulling it into the position i want. her body lies back. she accepts my force

and she spins. i spin her.

with a shove of my hand, with the twitch of my finger, she is reborn in the image i hold in my mind

as the hatchback leaves the road and finds the woods.

but i spin.

i spin.

i spin!

how is it that i can still spin? how is it that i can still give way?

how is it that we are pulled
yet we break like fired ceramic?

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