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Building a Box

He planes the maple in long, smooth sweeps
of his joiner’s hands.

Shavings rise like smoke
and tumble in a wave-break
of scattered curls below,
crisp and delicate as shells.

In my hands they are
warring scorpions, drifting leaves,
a cascading avalanche.

I am shooed away with hands
huge as oak trees.

The sky is wooden.
Clouds curl in whorls of grain
around a knot of sun.

He carves hidden joints and panels with
chiselled thumbs,
fingers blunt as hammers.

He pieces together
a box perhaps
a mastless boat. It seems
a simple puzzle for such hours of sweat;
his face is gleaming, head bent.

Slow hands build wood dark with wax,
sail the surface in tiny circles
concealing deeper maps of grain.

He will not come and join me
on the big stone table from where I
set sail to distant lands

or let me ride the tempest
of his hurricane shoulders
about the yard.

I watch. Waiting.

He takes me
shell like
to his warm ship of body
and sorrow breaks
over him like a wave.

It seems a small vessel to hold six
months of baby sister.

Submitted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Edited: Friday, June 14, 2013


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

From 'Fragile Cargo', BeWrite Books
Winner of The Grace Dieu Poetry Prize 2009

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