I learned to cut glass when I was young. On days when I was out of school, I’d get up early and go to work with my father. The winter mornings strike me most, clear and blue and brittle, the sun a bit less eager in its rise. He was grey back then, but not as much as now, and I was short and always smiling.We’d stand together at the carpet table and dad would show me how to oil the wheel and score the different thicknesses of glass. I practiced cutting little squares from scraps of more important jobs, keeping them in ordered stacks that probably were thrown away.
Our shop was cold back then, but not the way it is today. A woodstove bellowed piney heat that gathered us around when work was slow. All the stories that were told around it I’ve forgotten, but it’s not so much the tales as the fact that they were told.
Now the furnace runs on gas and hangs up from the ceiling, coming on at random times and blowing louder than I can think.
When it’s cold the glass resists the break, and even with a faultless score it tries to run off course. It takes a subtle hand to coax it, a feel for how the liquid wants to sheer. But sometimes the effort’s futile, and no matter how much care I take it still shatters in my hands.
In all the years I’ve lost count of the mirrors that I’ve broken, the losses and mistakes swept up in piles and shoveled in the trash.
A friend told me today that none of that makes any difference. She said what we create more than makes up for our miscalculations. So all the slivered mirrors on the floor don’t mean as much considering the windows that I’ve made.
I like that thought, and I’ll try to think of it tomorrow, in the morning when it’s dark and the cutting oil is thick from sitting in the cold.
I just hope that she’s correct. Because it seems the more material I break and throw away, the more fractured the reflections are of what I had in mind.
But what’s another broken mirror anyway.