The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Need for Nothing

Mel Bosworth

My life needed something, so I took a pottery class. There were only a half-dozen people in the class and I was the only man. The teacher was an aging, albeit attractive hippie who wore smocks even when she wasn’t teaching the class. I recognized her immediately.

I saw her once at a tea shop, ordering oolong. I told her I liked her outfit. She smiled too big, big eyes and deep wrinkles, face baked dry from, as I’d later discover, long hours around the pottery ovens. She held my chin in her palm and told me I was a beautiful person. Then, she left with her oolong.

The first thing we learned to make in pottery class was a bowl. Bowls are simple and practical. And, as the teacher pointed out, quite astutely, bowls hold the empty space which we can then fill however we choose.

We went around the room, offering our musings on what we’d put into our bowls. I planned on filling mine with breakfast cereal. Others spoke of soil or precious minerals. My pottery partner, a short woman with thick thighs and a fat ass, said she planned on leaving hers empty, explaining that the emptiness the bowl held was tantamount to everything.

“Good, very good,” said the teacher.

I didn’t get it but it wasn’t my idea, and it wasn’t my bowl that would be filled with the everything of nothingness. But I nodded like I understood. Then I played with my clay.

I didn’t take it very seriously at first. In fact, I was rather inappropriate, shaping my red clay into a crude penis. I asked my pottery partner, whose name was Martha, what she thought of my bowl.

“It’s only in its infancy,” I said. She frowned. I shrugged and smashed my clay penis into a shapeless blob. Not everyone appreciates a raging red clay penis.

However, the teacher took notice and asked if I imagined my bowl springing from coitus: man and clay. The clay was the penis, and my hands were the vagina. The bowl, then, would be my offspring. She asked what I meant to name it.

“I will name it Baby Bowl,” I said.

I meant it as a joke, but the teacher was very pleased with my answer. Martha gave me sideways eyes. I think she was just jealous that her bowl sucked and that the teacher had taken an interest in my clay technique.

Later, as we baked our bowls in the oven, Martha whispered that the teacher had the hots for me. I asked her how she knew.

“Look, but don’t look.”

I wiped my hands down the front of my smock and turned, whistling. The teacher worked a piece of clay at the spinning table. She shaped it into a massive column that, when finished, nearly reached the ceiling. Then she leaned back, legs spread wide, smock smeared red, hands wet. She let out a freakish, orgasmic moan while staring at me.

“See?” said Martha.

After class, everyone went home with their creations. I followed the teacher. She went to the tea shop, still wearing her smock, still glowing from the birth of her clay penis child that she carried under her arm like a ginormous loaf of French bread. She ordered her oolong, then turned.

“I like your creation,” I said, winking.

She dropped the penis to the floor. It shattered into a million pieces. She asked me to offer her something, so I offered her my bowl.

“Baby Bowl?”


My mind went back to the class, to Martha, to what I thought I’d learned but had not yet practiced, to what I thought I needed. I cupped my hands, then raised them.

“Gooooood,” she purred.

She went into the emptiness that my hands held, and filled it with her everything.

The next week, we learned how to make a cup and saucer.

About the author

Mel Bosworth is the author of When the Cats Razzed the Chickens (Folded Word, 2009) and Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom (Aqueous Books, 2010). His next book, due out June 2011, has a much shorter title. It's called Freight (Folded Word). When Mel isn't writing, he's standing on top of a big hill. Or he's eating a sandwich. Or he's thinking about nice people. Visit him at