Sunday, August 21, 2011

Time's Viscid Pawprint

Jars of beans from John Coykendall's visit.
This past week I began the orientation for my new job at Beardlsey Farm. It has been some time since so much was asked from me, in terms of time; not having a steady job this summer has had its drawbacks, but I have been happy to have the time to do anything that I wanted--canning, spending time with farmers, gardening. At this point of transition, I feel uncertain, stretched a little thin. As a result, I've been uneasy, agitated. In this time of change, I want to remind myself to pay attention to the things at hand, the everyday objects, which can be good anchors. In this, I couldn't not be reminded of Robert Pinsky's chapbook First Things to Hand. I'll share this poem with you.

3. Glass

Waterlike, with a little water
Still visible swirled in the bottom:

Earth changed by fire,
Shaped by breath or pressure.

Seemingly solid, a liquid
Sagging over centuries
As in the rippled panes
Of old buildings, Time's
Viscid pawprint.

Nearly invisible.
Tumbler. Distorting,
Breakable--the splinters
Can draw blood.

Craft of the glazier.
Ancestral totem substance:
My one grandfather
Washing store windows
With squeegee and bucket,
The other serving amber
Whiskey and clear gin over the counter,
His son my father
An optician, beveling lenses
On a stone wheel. The water
Dripping to cool the wheel
Fell milky in a pale
Sludge underneath the bench
Into a galvanized bucket
It was my job to empty,
Sloshing the ponderous
Blank mud into the toilet.

Obsidian, uncrystallized silicate.

Unstainable or stained.
Mirror glass, hour glass, dust:
Delicate, durable measure.

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