Peaches and Pomegranates
every day he is there,
old and wrinkled as the workpants he wears.
he kneels in front of his house,
grasping stones in both hands
or sometimes a chisel and a hammer.
he is building,
layer by fitted layer,
an impenetrable stone wall,
flawless as a ripe peach
and intricate as the inner workings of a typewriter.
the bitter look on his face is merely
for although I do not know him, this wall
is a work of art-
not to keep in or out;
a long line of mortarless beauty
that stretches neatly along
his property's edge and stops respectfully
before the tree line of the nearby forest.
his yellow house watches, shades pulled halfway down,
in the sleepy, contented manner of a satisfied cat.
when it grows too cold to work anymore,
the man will enter its warm yawning mouth to rest and eat.
the wall will outlast-
this poem, which cannot approach the durability of stone,
for readers and critics with noses like ice picks
may chip it pitilessly apart
until it lies shattered on the page,
distant and foreign,
not close, like the grasping of a chisel and the
feel of stone
rough as cat's tongue
and tasting of sour dirt.
I could make my pen a hammer
and pound out strong iron-tongued poems
dull and heavy syllables falling abruptly
like horseshoes on broad horse hooves
or a hoe
and have the words explode
with moldy-maroon seeds and fish-white flesh
but I would like it as a chisel
so I could cleave apart minds and wedge the words in
or pry open rusty mouths and tongues to speak them
the old man has died
but the stone still bears his touch