March 2023

Back to Issue 13


By Pam Schindler

Biot, France


A company, like cows.

Near, not quite touching.

With a shape like fat olives.

With glazed lips.

They stand waist-high, they are

centuries old, they were filled

with grain, with olive oil,

wooden lids tamped into place.

Stamped, at the throat,

with a maker’s mark,

like an eartagged cow.

Distinct, variable as earth.

Weathered like stone, their skin 

is mud-mottled, thick and cool.

Scaly white in their throats

like oyster shells.

The museum labels them Jarre Biotoise,

like an extinct species,

but all these have outlived

their makers.  How were they moved,

full of oil?  Even empty, they carried

a great weight of earth.

Tipped, they would have the tortoise lurch

of something whose heart is stillness:

a rounded plenty,

coming back to balance,

ripples settling in the oil.