Lesson

Lesson

Here’s where you work.
On this table the chisels lie. Twenty-six.
Some have grown blunt with the efforts of carvers
before you. In time, tools fail.

You work in stone. Cutting on the bias,
you strike imperceptibly until something gives.

Maybe the stone cries. Once there was lymph,
slightly aquamarine.

On this bench rests the sandpaper.
At the end of the day, when the stone is cut, as the moon
ascends, you seize on a square of coarsest grit.

You work all night. You must. You graduate through the hours
to the finest rasping, the stone almost hums with it.

There will emerge the minutest calculus, slightly oval,
unimaginably delicate, a wren’s egg. Pray. For now
you must birth it, you must somehow quicken it,
until rock wavers, until the merest hairline of doubt.

You must make rock care.

Do you understand? No one wants war,
right now reason is crippled: there is only craft.
You have but the one chance. You have until morning.


Harold Ackerman retired from teaching English and ESOL to concentrate on writing and making photographic art.  He has poetry at The Museum of Poetry and photography at Brushfire Literature and Arts and has published a collection of poems and photos, February 2.

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