Holden Voices: Blog

Poems, stories, and reflections, written by faculty, staff, and volunteers currently serving in the Village.

KATE EGOLF: On birth

December 17, 2020 at 11:46 PM

When the Village went on lockdown last March, I stopped throwing. I didn’t work with clay for months. And I just have to forgive myself and blow past the embarrassment.

This winter, hope came into focus from an article titled “Free Form” in a New York Times magazine. I tore it out and took it with me. I knew that no matter how 'interesting' I found the article, I wouldn’t remember the artist’s name, or more, actually follow up on her, without a physical reminder.

Another truth: I don’t feel connected to advent this year. The theme of birth. I am way past birth. My sister delivered her first child just over a month ago. When I was ten years old, I never thought I wouldn’t be there.

I’m here. I am constantly finding myself with glossy fringe in my left hand as coffee pours itself into the cup in my right hand. There’s also a band of yellow light that skims the page with my tilting head, rereading, again and again, about Senga Nengudi. Senga Nengudi—This is not her given name, but one she created once she became a mother. Her art also followed shift to express the “physical and psychological changes” that occurred during pregnancy. This was where I was hooked.

Growing up, the most prominent story people gave me about my own mother was how much she changed after pregnancy. (I’m sorry. I always assume people know about my own loss of my mother when I was a child. It feels so obvious to me.) I constantly wonder what kind of woman she was and exactly what changed — this wondering like a precious coin kept in my pocket that I pause to rub and flip when I am too anxious in my own skin.

I ache to visit home and hold my niece, sweet Chloe Kathleen: a perfect name. But more, I wonder about the changes in my sister. I recognize that my hope for her is an echo…for a softening to occur. For healing and a new definition of love to emerge. To know that it’s possible for me—without bearing a child—to become a new shape.

I have some more spinning to do.

Kate Egolf is the Potter at Holden Village.