The Glassblower Dances

The Glassblower Dances
The words first appeared on a lamp post 
on a dirty road between a chip shop 
and some tired Turkish Baths.

They nestled amongst fat careless splurges of paint 
and the neon screams of get us oot o'here
and nae future.

Reading the phrase, passersby smiled 
briefly,
and thought no more about it.

But the words tucked themselves 
into the minds 
of the people 
on the bus.

Two days later, the handwriting was seen again
on a wall along a cycle path
and then beside the hospital for sick children
and in a cafe toilet
and down near where the ships no longer came.

And people began to repeat it to themselves 
in the early morning 
on the streets.

The phrase swirled out.
It appeared on the back of schoolbooks 
and on library desks. 

It moved beyond the city, 

was seen written on a rock
on a beach full of leaving birds,

and on a bench 
beside a bus stop
in a small grey town.
 
It was seen carved down the curve of a mountain.
the glassblower dances

As the words swelled,
people began to talk.
A feature was broadcast on the local news.

And some were curious
and searched for understanding
on YouTube, 

removed

but enough to understand
the rhythm that came through the feet
from earth to breath to arm,
the flow of skill,
the exhausted dogged passion
that was required for the alchemy of changing dirt
into something fluid, strong and beautiful.

The words grew.
And the City Council talked 
of the cost of cleaning
but they could not calculate it accurately.

And well heeled sorts on a late night sofa spoke 
of the shallowness 
of modern culture
and lamented the loss 
of the canon. 

(but the thing about a scratch
is that you feel it
and sometimes it lets things in 
and they incubate 
and fester.)

And some academics wrote a paper on
the sociocultural intertextual significance 
of urban public expression

but it was rather long, 
and only read by eight people.

And linguists spoke of sibilants,
how they trace the brain with fingers of smoke.

And historians expounded on the history of glass making, 
how China, ignoring it until the Seventeenth Century, 
invented fireworks instead of windows.

And the phrase didn’t stop any wars
Or bankers -
there were other words to try that job.
And it was beyond this writer’s ability
at this time.

But people smiled.
And for a moment felt something in their chests had loosened 
and wondered about things 
that did not touch their lives.

And all this happened
because once upon a time
someone though to write upon a wall with joy

the glassblower dances
Rachel McCrum

Revised from The Glassblower Dances (Stewed Rhubarb Press, 2012), published by permission of the poet

Rachel McCrum

Rachel McCrum is a poet, performer and promoter, now living in Canada. 

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