The Fragment

This piece of red, brown clay
I hold between two fingers
To observe.
I am no archaeologist
And yet, it's plain to me,
This piece once shaped the neck
Of some Fallaha's water jar.
And back...
Way back...
Since time began,
It has been here within some gully
Motionless and mute
Shapeless, without meaning
A lump of clay.

I muse here on this piece of broken jar,
Upon its mortality.
First as the clay,
And then the jar,
And now, within my hands
A memory
Of water and of wells
And thirsty people
Long forgotten.
The future still unknown
But its existence sure,
As red clay
And sunlit water

Here, through these ruins
Comes one now,
Proud and erect
With water jar a-top her head.
It is related to the chip I hold
There in its wholeness,
Full of water,
Balanced on her head.
While she, in broidered dress
And kohl-rimmed eyes,
With mantel covering her face,
Is sure related to the
Carrier of my broken jar.

Who dares to say
This piece of clay,
Her carefully balanced jar,
Hold more the essence of
Than either she or I?

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