For George Ohr, the Mad Potter of Mississippi

When this bowl cooled                                                                   on the counter from the kiln,
your family laughed—Crazy                            garbage! So, you packed away
your creation in excelsior,                                                                  your hot aqua loves forgotten
in the barn. You often told folks                                                      your pots would come to
   something, even if you were strange                                             and no good: I have a notion
   that I am a mistake.
Now, beneath                                    a museum’s Plexiglass display,
     your burnt umber finishes crackle dry                             Mississippi mud, and this lopsided
       vessel protrudes sullenly, its thin edges                      Aquiline, belligerent as a tied-back
                        mustache. Inside the crock, your sad thumbprints press floral lace
                                     patterns, pushing away all the emptiness in there.
                                        You are not crazy, Mr. Ohr—if only your
                       family had believed.

Cate McGowan is the author of the story collection, True Places Never Are (Moon City Press, 2015), which won the Moon City Press Short Fiction Award. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in Glimmer Train, Crab Orchard Review, Shenandoah, (b)oink, Unbroken, Moon City Review, and Vestal Review. Cate’s been an editor for the Louisville Review and SFWP and is an arts writer for national periodicals. WEB