Sunday, May 25, 2014

LARCHWOOD (POEM)

LARCHWOOD

I remember the nets of my childhood
heaving in the fluid air
they were mere play of light and shade
and did not seem strong enough to catch a fish.
They were hung on wooden racks to dry
those nets made white by water and the sun
by men that looked as delicate and tough
as the figures they carved in fragrant larchwood
that had a sheen in the winter lamplight
like shining nets that dried on larchwood sticks.
Marys they carved and Josephs
with robes that moved in the uncertain flame
and flowed like the nets.
And the Christchild was round with an old man's face
on a heaping crib
and the sheep wore woolly webs
from which wise faces peered.
Balthazar's crown was gold net on a braid
the box of myrrh had weaving incised lines.
And the gold coins jingled in a knotted bag.

But I did not see that, then, I saw
only the bright reds and blues, and the golden
halo on the Child, and the innocent white sheep,
and the green shutters on the windows.

My father still carves figures of larchwood,
but he does not paint them
and they have a sheen like white nets drying in the sun.

[copyright 1963; publ. in March 63, University of Alberta]

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