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Undertaking


These are the difficult days
in this still unnamed house
on the edge of the bluff,
where silence hangs like an osprey
above this table laid out for one

that was once a coffin door
found in every home
(to take the breadth of man
and the last of his breathing)
bought one evening late
in a junk shop in Connecticut
when you should have been home by six.

Day over night in your work shed
you undertook to strip and sand,
till shavings bled with Indian red
from your plane
while a base carved from bothering bits
turned it horizontal.

Of all your work it was your best,
taking my palm to guide it along its exposed grain,
ring it round each knotted whorl
before we sat at it to eat.

 

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