Marsha would blow glass in her garage, and I would watch her. I was fourteen in the summer and I believed that I could see my future and the stars and all things beautiful within her glass. She would blow many colors, and then set them out to dry, looking like a rainbow oozing slowly– candy that was too powerful and too sweet to touch. It would burn your tongue off if you tried.
I spent every afternoon watching her because I had no friends but could not waste a beautiful day inside. I believed it was a sin to God to stay inside on a sunny, temperate day. I would paint my toes bright candy colors to mimic the colors of her glass sculptures as they came out hot and glistening. I would long to touch the molten shapes. But Marsha would push me back and say:
“Not if you want to be a lady, Tess. Ladies have fingerprints and the skin of porcelain. You will burn yourself.”
“So give me the gloves,” I said. “I won’t drop it.”
But Marsha would only shake her head and turn her body so it blocked my view of the kiln.
Silly to think that a fourteen-year-old was so concerned with the making of delicate things. But that was before I realized the power of the female figure. Now, I imagine men look at me the same way I would watch the smoldering, flowing shapes of Marsha’s glass.
Don’t touch, I tell them with my eyes. You will burn yourself.
Now I realize how grateful I am to Marsha for her lessons.