Tara Deal

Mirror Finish

I have a bit of metal sculpture in my bedroom. One palm-sized, smooth, shiny, aluminum, elephant-headed Hindu god from India on the nightstand. Minimal design on a black wood base. None of that garish neon drapery and beads and vests and jewels and things. This Ganesha is not decked out in pink and yellow. The artist has restrained himself. 

I do not believe in divinity, but I do believe in the beauty of metal. And a bit of decoration. A souvenir from a place.

And I wonder who made it, this small thing that I have, that I love. 

Could I do it myself? Make a thing. Something to think.

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Ganesha is the god of arts and letters, the god of new beginnings, and the remover of obstacles, among other things. 

A new beginning would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

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But how to start again and do something different? Do I need to travel? Further/farther/where? Is it possible to become someone better? Something serious? Something like a man of arts and letters. I mean a person. (But beware “the eternal spectacle of becoming,” that’s what Nietzsche said.) There are so many things to consider. What about a magician? Who would have thought? What about a sculptor working with aluminum? Probably not.

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Why not? I’d love to live in a loft with big windows and a view of the city. A bit of silver river nearby if I’m lucky. A space to work and a sense of purpose. Devotion and practice. As if in a temple. (Art as contemplation.) And then, in the end: one final, finished product. Proof of accomplishment. Proof of life.

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But I need something small to fit inside the apartment I live in already. Something portable, personal. A kind of ornament. 

My guide to style says there are ten pieces of jewelry every woman should own by the time she’s thirty-five. Things you can pull out night after night. 

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I have registered for a class called Jewelry and Metals. Beginners welcome. 

I hope I’m not too late. 

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On the way to the metalsmithing workshop, in the subway, the car stops in a tunnel. An announcement comes on. “If you see something, say something.” But everyone is quiet. The car has gone dark. There is a monk in saffron robes. I saw him before in the light. There is a girl with a cherry blossom tattoo on her shoulder. But there are no more announcements. No statements. We move on.

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At the next station, a passenger comes on with a song: ”There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York.” And then the music from the mariachi band starts up at the end of the car. People hanging on poles struggle to get out of the way of the small velvet men who will not be discouraged by bags and skateboards and canvases held together with string. Everyone has something. 

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There is a wizard with a wand, believe it or not.

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I have the course catalog with the class description in my bag. I take it out and reread about Forging. Annealing. Drilling. Riveting. Bending. Breaking. What does i