On Camille Harper’s “The Potter’s Wife”
By David Revzin
“The Potter’s Wife,” by Camille Harper, is the portrait of an artist as an old man, presented by his wife, who is watching his slow demise. Here is a snapshot of a life in decline and of love overshadowed by sorrow and tragedy. There are no more Muses.
“My husband keeps up the charade well, just as I do,” says the wife. “He hasn’t had a show in years.” The subtle absurdities of this deteriorating home are soon replaced by a devastating realism embodied by tragedy. While the potter’s wife searches for signs of artistic life in her husband’s clay-covered hands (“hands that paid for this house”), “it is impossible to not notice the shaking.”
Harper’s story is both beautiful and bleak. It is a reminder of the intersections of art, the body, and life. Creation and destruction coexist. When we learn of the source of the potter’s sorrow, we start to sense the strength of his wife. She, too, has suffered. She, too, searches for signs of hope. We, too, see the shadows of the past.
“The Potter’s Wife,” by Camille Harper, appears in Volume 2, Issue 1 of Underground (2011).