Caspertina Passala woke, her head snapping up from where it had been cricked on her shoulder. Hermes, the Macaw startled. He ruffled his carmine nape, squawked, “Shut the door!” and flew off.
Caspertina Passala had been dreaming. She was twenty-one years old and she was in love.
She was walking on Hafling Hill where, the night before, she had strolled hand-in-hand with her beloved. The air was fresh with the scent of Jacarandas and their purple blossoms—glinting nearly white in the twilight—fluttered down when the breeze caressed the tree branches and the petals settled in her black hair. Fireflies flickered to life, calling for mates. She was gripped with such a longing for that very moment of which she was drinking so deeply that her whole body quivered. She would burst! And she turned and ran home, feeling the warm air on her bare arms with every stride.
She threw open the shed door and lit the lamp, turning up its wick to cast a circle of light, and from the storage she took three kilos of clay and began to wedge it. She kneaded and felt its honest earthiness between her fingers as it became warmer and more pliable, solid and smooth, like the comforting weight of a lover. She rolled the clay into long pieces, one and then another and another, in long lines; and then she coiled them together, one on top of the other, and then another to make a bowl, creating a shape strong enough and wide enough for all her yearning. Fireflies poured through the open door to settle above her in a pulsing corona. She turned this way and that, trying to see them properly as they hovered around her. A sigh of wonder and delight came from her throat. No one had told her of such marvels!
She flattened the sides of her pot with the paddle, closing her eyes to listen to the rhythmic slaps. But not too much; she wanted the marks of her making to be there; for the pot to live and breathe. Then she smoothed the bottom with the stone kidney, stroking, stroking, stroking its silkiness.
Caspertina Passala remembered all this—no, relived it in a waking dream—feeling boundless love and a ravenous, pining joy for life.
“I have lived,” she said aloud to herself. “I have really lived.”
And she wept.