caroline knox

 

GLASSWORKS

 

They were boiling pans of gunge to eventually make soap, and supposedly there were “towering shard-rucks of spoiled pots,”

in the early Wedgewood manufactories. Keir the Scotsman was responsible for a lot of this:

he isolated slowly cooled glass crystals

that looked like acorn squash, snowflakes, and bathtub scrubbers. He gave Wedgewood the recipe

for the raw materials of flint glass to make a standard thick elegant pottery glaze. But England’s first glassmakers were Continental immigrants, migrants, whose routes

have been traced “in cullet-heaps and broken-down furnaces,

and by their names, often mutilated, on parish registers,” while stateside one of the Glass Flowers will occasionally burst into smithereens. Cotton Mather

yearned to know more about the spontaneous craziness: “What should be the meaning in the broken windows for us?” —in 1695

Glass is full of palimpsests like forgotten words,

much as, when I was a kid, skating on a backwater of the Charles one day I rattled across the hobnail white ice to clear black

and looking down in alarm saw a sodden and frozen rowboat lying on the bottom,

another world parallel and lost, drowned but also petrified, so I was petrified too.

And to scuttle this poem, see more glass. All -mongers and -wrights should go to glass class

and learn to make work stark or ornamented with a fillip, powers employed and exerted;

what about a Dorkington Cranberry/Marigold epergne, highly sought after! Or cobalt

liners that nestle in salt-cellars, preventing oxidization. They use sand and soda and lime.

You can make your own windowpanes full of warts and bumps, of a sophisticated lavender

—p i e rce your house with beveled grisaille: that’s the boilerplate, or the billingsga t e—

make it like Sainte-Chapelle, almost ninety percent pierced, a world away from hands-on Enlightenment science projects.

You yourself can make fake onyx or jet, just by vastly increasing the proportion of charcoal in the molten vortex