Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Builder by John Lyons

The Builder
He observed men building houses:
how they cleared ground
for digging to bed-rock.

He watched them balancing,
with the body’s knowledge,
pillatrees on steep slopes.

He marvelled at the way
things came together with intimacy
of halving joints, mortise and tenon,
constructing a logic men live by.

For a long time he stood beneath immortelles
in awe with corn birds weaving hanging nests;
he knew then it would take a life-time
of ingenuity to build the house
he wished to grow wise in.

It was hard work digging a pit of clay,
dancing in the straw with bare feet,
pugging mortar to shape rooms to his desire.

As he danced, he dreamed of moulding
a room around silence, a place in which to foetal-curl,
suspend thoughts of how to survive;
another, without corners,
walls smoothed to a mirror
with the friction of love.

He danced dreaming
of the one where he would store
the things he had given power to:
an owl’s mummified wing,
his navel string, never planted,
withered like a dead yam vine;
the cosmic pebble, like a bull’s black eye
that almost struck his father down.

The last room was for his mother.
She died when he was nine.

John Lyons

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