Ceramic tile made by Pewabic Pottery of Detroit. Photo courtesy of Greg Sendi.
By Greg Sendi
Bottom What’s the thing he says after the parts are dealt, in night-before-the-battle mode, blurting as the dopey troupe departs? A kind of grave hoo-rah or lock-and-load— as if their oafy show were Agincourt or Bosworth and his overwrought goodbye a see-you-on-the-other-side-old-sport— maybe with forearm-clutching, thigh to thigh. And later, in full-on asshattery under the moon, the way the sprite queen dotes pub-drunk on nonsense love, the flattery, his appetite for headscratching and oats, the berries and bouquets each nymph extracts— the gag is she’s the only one enchanted. He’s just himself. He likes the snacks. He is a sop for adulation, granted, but, to her roiling hungry panting, cold— a masterpiece of lunacy, cemented glazed and cast on cladding tile, the mold an inverse to disunion unpresented. Applaud the nameless potter for the arms devised a telltale way—his in distrust, crosscut, hers tendering him a plea of charms as if, aware their dreams are drawn in dust, to ask, “What will become of us, sweet love? What part of promise may survive unspelling? What docile breeze won’t scatter us above the distant sundering sky and past retelling?” To which, if you and I had been supplied with parts, would we recall how underneath this same moon, at his slo-mo suicide, we nearly peed our pants and couldn’t breathe?
The poem is (among other things) a reflection on a work of ceramic tile made by Pewabic Pottery of Detroit showing the scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream where Bottom is transformed into an ass and Titania is in love with him. The original of this tile is included as part of a fireplace compilation of story tableaus located in the children’s reading room of the Detroit Public Library that was installed in 1926. So, you see, there’s even a library connection to this one!