Wednesday, March 23, 2011


He worked with his hands
on leather for boots
with his hands cut the leather,
glued, sewed, glued and trimmed,
and sewed again,

layers laid down
among deep shadows,
building and rebuilding,
sculpting softly, shaping an artifact
to human need,
A piece of entire human history,

layers poured and dried,
layers of culture
color and texture
stucco, gesso, stone wall plastered,
painted and cracked,
varnished and dripped
over every generation;

fires and wars,
dictatorships, cartels
clearing the rainforest,
loosening tethered souls
of sacrificed children, animals,

layers of caked blood, dried,
sanded with pumice,
clear varnished, watercolored,
crayoned and penciled,
framed, burned, pounded
with a hammer, eaten by beetles
to beaten drums of every age,
reclaimed by jungle whose vines
hold men by the ankles until they cry;

and so it was, overgrown in deep coastal forest,
buried below towering cedars,
he stumbled upon the side of an ancient building
oiled, layered, soaked in centuries almost black
hardwood with a gothic stain-glass window

some faithful one kept a candle
burning where no one but God could know,
glinting rich greens, yellows, blues and reds,
depicting some such pre-historic tale
as only angels tell--

he had met the candle lighter before,
small, her white hair tied in a bun.

It was Christmas eve along the Alaskan Highway
deserted for the holiday at thirty below,
his jeep running out of fuel,
every station closed,
every door barred and locked against him.

Death grinning in the back seat
wearing a festive holly wreath.

When he could go no further,
he pulled into a locked up station, his last hope,
and went for a desperate walk,
the layers of his life grown thin and brittle.

his jacket barely enough,
Not a window showed a light,
the village deserted,
gone to reunions, choir fests,
the sunny warm hearths of relatives,

when he came upon a tiny church,
a light burning, the door unlocked,
there alone in silence
on her knees with her back to the door,
one kneeled devoutly in prayer,
nor did she start at his approach.

she fed him, filled his jeep with gas,
saw him on his way;

thus the layers were applied, the collage
pasted. plastered, a choir softly singing,
filling the gaps, cracks between the planets
between the days making decisions,
gingerly driving upon parallel logs
spanning a broken ice bridge
crossing the Graham River
that midnight Christmas eve,

and the cloud of witnesses
misting up, another year
from another river
at dawn among summer evergreens,
singing at dusk, harmonica melodies rising,
falling, quiet winds.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is so rich! It echoes and re-echoes. Is it autobiographical in some way?