Read Poem: KINTSUGI MUSINGS by Netta Kanoho

“Kintsugi is an old way of repairing broken pottery developed by the Japanese using lacquer or some other resin laced with pulverized gold. The story goes that a samurai broke his favorite tea bowl and sent it off to China to be repaired. When it came back there were ugly metal staples all over the cup firmly holding the cracked bits together. This was unsatisfactory. The cup was sent to another artisan, an old Japanese goldsmith, who worked on perfecting a new way to heal the broken cup. He made each crack in the cup a thing of beauty. He honored and emphasized every flaw. And the gold in the cracks caught the light and threw it back each time the old warrior drank his tea.

‘Kay. Try this:
Take this clay tea bowl.
Now throw it on the ground…HARD!
Go for it!
Okay.
Look at those clay bits scattered all about.
Is it still a bowl, do you think?
Sure doesn’t look like it, huh?

Okay.
Now, say “sorry” to it.
Go on.
Apologize.

Did it go back to the way it was before?
No, huh?
Come on…
Put some SINCERITY into it.
LEAN on that remorse.
Say, “PLEASE forgive me.”
Say, “I didn’t mean it.”
Say, “It was an accident.”
Hmmm.
Try pulling out the big guns.
Say, “I LOVE you!”
Yeah, really…
Say it from the heart.

So…
Did all that saying work?
Not really, huh?
Broken’s broken, ain’t it?
And words don’t do a thing.

The pieces are still lying there,
Looking all forlorn.
They will not hold together.
The integrity is gone.
When you try to make them fit,
Try to press them into place,
The pieces fall apart.
Sad, huh?

Try pouring some tea
On all those broken bits
And the wet just runs down
All over your feet.
Hmmm…

Now, what?
Oh, wait…
Here’s some sticky resin stuff.
And, look at this:
There’s this shiny golden powder sitting there,
Right next to you.

Let’s try something.
Here, take this brush.
Now pour a dollop of that goopy stuff on this plate.
Swirl it around with the brush.
Right.
Now mix in some of that powder.
Just stir it right on in.
Slowly, slowly, slowly.
Mix it all up.
No lumps, no bumps.
Mix it all up smooth.

Okay.
Now, grab up one clay piece
And turn it so the broken edge faces up.
Brush the glop – all golden now – along that ragged edge.
Carefully, carefully…no slopping allowed.
Then grab up a second clay bit
And fit together the edges.

Resin oozes out of the crack, huh?
Okay.
Run your brush along that golden bleeding line
Along the front, along the back.
Make it smooth and smoother.
Gently now, like a dream.
Now…repeat, repeat, repeat.

You will mess it up, you know.
You’ll get impatient and you’ll push too hard.
The glop will spread and splotch
And you’ll have to start it over.

Again, again, again.
You’ll have to keep on mixing, keep on brushing, keep on smoothing,
On and on and on
Until each clay piece is touching each other
And every crack glimmers golden.

Oh-oh.
There’s one piece missing.
(It probably got pulverized,
Or maybe it got lost.)
No matter.
Glop some of the gloop into that empty
And smooth, smooth, smooth it on out
Over the edges, front, then back.
There.

Okay.
Now, set it aside.
Wait.
It’ll dry in the bye-and-bye.

And…
Oh! Will you look at that!
The bowl is resurrected,
But it really is NOT the same.
Oh, no.
Now it’s something other.
Now it’s something more.
It gleams now in all the broken places.
Gold shines in all its cracks.
When you pour some tea in it
None of the wet runs out.

And when you hold what once-was-broken,
Healed now after all your gentle care,
Maybe then you will understand:
Fixing what you break
Is not supposed to be easy,
And words alone won’t get you there.

[created 16 September 2015]
[revised 17 September 2015]

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