Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 4, December 2011

Miriam Sagan
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA


Steuben Glass

When I was fourteen, or a bit older, my friend Alma and I had the run of New York City. We'd go to Sheep's Meadow for the hippie scene in the dry fountain, the West Village, and oddly enough, mid-town. Fifth Avenue had its own beauty in the rain, everyone crossing at the same time with an umbrella when the WALK sign flashed, like something choreographed in a Broadway musical.

I loved St. Patrick's for its stained glass, particularly the blues in the kaleidoscopic rose window. We loved Tiffany's and often ventured in to oogle diamonds laid out on black velvet—not to mention emeralds and sapphires. Once we pretended to look for Mother's Day gifts, and the clerk served us with complete sang-froid, although I'm sure she wasn't taken in for a minute as we giggled in our purple maxi coats.

But it was Steuben glass next door that was my pinnacle of beauty. The glass was all uncolored, and the pieces had stories. A mother polar bear climbed with her cubs. A hunter floated on an iceberg, aiming at the implied watery depths.

Now I see it with more context—its art deco lines, its etched and sculpted technique, its slightly sentimental quality with the ability to evoke perfection.

This summer, at Corning Glass, I saw where it is made. And for about the amount workman's comp takes out of my paycheck each month I bought (factory price on sale) two little pieces, grooved star and heart, that can fit in my palm, a bit of the transparent unattainable.

surely these bubbles
in the glass iceberg must be
the glassblower's breath.


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