Elegy for a Craftsman
by John W. Hoy
The time is right
To take some stock —
To measure and assess stores of
Life’s dust mites: bent tacks, plies of veneer,
Old corks, pennies, rolls of canvas,
Empty cans and jars, loose metaphors, etc.
So I walk about from
Room to room to room —
Geography I ought to
Knew so well — and count the
Stuff that Michael passed my way.
His eyes could always
Recognize the waifs
To fit my style of seeing:
Poems, gull– winged books, jokes.
Some gems were not so much —
I have to note a really awful coat,
Howling of nonspecific British mammals,
Houndstooth with old, echoing brogues,
And deep pockets of promise,
The perfect size to sound with novels, or The
Café Review, and so on, and Michael
Saw the ugly thing, and thought of me.
Almost –old men with ancient memories
Too often he and I, we yammered,
Of far – off hamlets — smoke of peat
Drifting up from shallow hearths,
Our chat of pubs and ordinary sports
Like him and friends and me who wore those
Draping, garish, mothy tweeds.
Once, he lofted from his
Handy shelf an insulator —
Antique porcelain — to burnish tempered steel —
And dropped it in my grasp
To sharpen wood–shaving tales:
Warmth of hemlock, birch
And pine, and preparation,
Close work, dust and time.
I recall we stood in hallways.
Tools of trades in hands so wise —
He a measure always near, and
I clutching brilliant classroom exercise
Aiming toward proliferation
(A page no doubt I should have
Measured twice before I cut
From the printer) —
We talked and watched a world
Holding tight to acceleration, toward —
Comedy, was it, Michael?
Faster, faster toward today.
I scope and measure now the hall,
Looking for his presence, and a
Seems to stand there still,
Poem in hand, ethereal.
I somehow bring to focus
A phrase or two, or even
Pages, single words, but also,
Sight of quiet both typical and odd
A listening quiet, but more so —
His voice gone
To the next work order.