WEB: February 9, 2018
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER AND SOUND OF LIMB I USED MY DIVINING RODS TO SEARCH FOR THE PAST, TO FIND THE SITES OF VANISHED BUILDINGS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE AND GHOST TOWNS AND TO FIND UNMARKED GRAVES IN OLD CEMETERIES. VIBRATIONS FROM THE PAST WERE STRONG. I WROTE THIS POEM:
The discarded church is plaything for the wind, dead and empty, holding only lonesome wind sounds.
Old boards creak; old shingles rasp and clatter. Sand grains tap and slither,
pushed by wind through broken panes and every other orifice.
Give no audience to the callous wind. Tune your ears to soft, age-muted sounds –
hammers dancing on new wood, hoes and shovels scraping in the mortar box,
the slicing of a well-honed plane on spruce and pine and perfumed cedar.
Listen for the calling bell, the preaching and the praying,
the organ pumping for a wedding, the sobbing of a mourner.
Listen. You will hear them,
Buffeting the deserted general store, wind breaks rusted nails to make joints shake and shiver.
Then howls in triumph in a fallen corner.
Give no audience to the callous wind,
The merchant says: Don’t put those items back. Take your whole order, lady.
I’ll add a nickel’s worth of candy for the kids. Don’t fret,
Everybody runs a little short sometimes. You can make it good next week
with an extra pound of butter. People always praise your butter.
She conveys her gratitude with a tired uncertain laugh.
Listen. You will hear them.
And when Death empties me and wind sweeps unconcerned around my monument,
give no audience to that callous wind .Tune your ears to soft, age-muted sounds.
I am singing in the ruined church;
Whistling to a newly nested robin in a spreading elm tree;
sharing a joke with a precious seasoned friend.
I am puzzling over mysteries, delighting in discoveries,
and saying that I love you.
Listen. You will hear me.
( This poem appeared in the Spring, 2002 Edition of Folklore.)