The Carpenter

Cherry blossoms charged pink,

blinked of rich red future rush

of fine new fruit,

falling

freshly to me;

only too soon did I see,

reposing in now-familiar limbs,

that smooth red wood would so well suit

for carving fine rich furniture;

cutting and milling it

I moved on.

 

Ranging

in wide rolling tides of pine,

forests of firs, all the coniferous brittle

turpentine trees

breathed on me

a fresh crisp needle-fragrance;

I grew as wild and wide as that common tree.

But then I began to see

how broad pine beams

build structure into dreams —

and again I saw

timbers toppled and trimmed,

treated for use.

I moved on.

 

Along a lonely road

a live oak leaned and spoke

roughly in rich tones to me:

moss-bearded sage,

issuing wisdom gray with age,

grumbling green solidity.

I grew tough,

drew up gnarled and huge;

but soon enough

hard floors and solid stairs

called for the oak, broken and cut.

Nothing was left then but

to move on.

 

Kneeling about the base

of a towering cypress temple tended

by storks and egret priests,

I needed to grow to know the grace,

the grand patience of the place:

insular spike of pride,

mystical spire spun with thin green.

But then,

again at the edge of understanding,

I stepped away and wanted

weatherproof wood

so my structures would stand when I

moved on.

 

Save me the still willows,

silent, to wait on —

soul, let me sit awhile,

shifting and watching,

softly waiting,

sifting my will

slowly away.

 

 

(1966)

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