He was a carpenter for the longest time.
The way the chisel carved the wood
so too labour shaped his body –
a plough horse in those days.
Only he could grind the beans
that woke the sun from slumber
with sweet aroma and the nudge of obligation.
The moons confidante, tireless.
No stranger to the stars, either.
The aches came gradually, purple veins
trembling frame – deteriorating.
The pallor face of a champion, retired.
Tools were sold – what was stored,
rusted and eventually thrown.
Flesh once wrapped in flannel,
now the softest linen.
Hard hat to night cap.
Endless days when skin was seared by brutal rays,
sweat dripped from brow to lip.
Salt of life’s sea –
dried out, barren, evaporated.
Perched under cool shade,
the backyard pine.
For a while, he trimmed the flowers
kept the garden in order.
Methodical and meticulous, still
as if hammering nails
worked East to West and back again
This continued for some time,
then his mind
grew weary and forgot to remember,
forgot to concern itself with flowers.
Befuddled and floundering
in the soft glow of summers passing tidings,
standing in linen, trapped in linen.
Clenching his fists, then
surrender, palms open.
The soil stained every crease
And rolled off.
They moved him from the earth
flowers, chisels, friends, wife –
hurled into one of many voids.
He claimed eyes, grey, foggy.
Eyes that could peer through
people, worlds, time,
all the same.
He was placed in plastic.
Linen was a dream long forgotten.
Before that, a greater nothing.
I met with him twice in fifteen years.
Once to say hello.
Once to bid him farewell.
That place was not for the living,
and it took two visits
to remind the old carpenter of that.