I often bleed at work. Three of the five main tools I use are sharp. The dough cutter I use to smooth the backs of the tiles often catches an edge. I press it at an angle against the mold to make a coherent back and if I pull the edge too close, it can gash my fingers with the metal plate. The knife is a hazard if I use it upside down. The sharp tips of my trimming tools can jab me as I work on the surface of the slab roller. They poke and prod as I slide and spin the plaster molds. I bleed and my blood drips into the clay, into the tiles I am making to go into some kitchen somewhere. My fingers are of no danger to me.

I sweat because I work next to three kilns that fire to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. The sweat drips into the clay too. On humid days I consume gallons of water and I think the tiles should be worth more because of this. These tiles have my sweat and dry quick in the molds, so I don’t have to wait long to trim and smooth.

I cry because sometimes the tide of emotion turns inside out. I just go through the motions: wedge clay, roll it out, press it into the molds with my fingers, cover it with canvas, pound canvas and mound of clay into mold, scrape off excess clay, put a hook in the back, wait to dry, tap out, slice off the excess edges making a straight line, recycle excess clay into a plastic bag behind me, take off all bubbles in nooks and crannies with kemper knocker 423, smooth out lines and blemishes with smoother-outer, slap middle with the palm of my hand to prevent warping, rest on drying rack with delicate ease. Cry.

Cry for all the sorrow swallowed as a little boy making clay snakes on the back of encyclopedias. Kneeling on the rust covered landing of home, where the stairs turn I couldn’t have known. I weep for all the crushed dreams and the apathy anger that cursed the follow. Yearn for arms that might be able to hug. My lost opportunity eye leak falls into the clay and these tears I think are for free.