Those bare October mornings my father
Stood with spade in hand, his breath distilled:
Old age condensed into rheumy clouds that hung
Between us. We strained in mutual
Silence while the sun unthawed our furled fists,
Booted feet made heavy by the labor
Between us – nailing clapboard to shed or
Cutting turf or massing molded leaves.
Those tools became a substitute for words,
Became the words themselves by which we spoke.
That tin-shrill sound of spade and blade became
A limit towards which we approached the idea
Incarnate: the metal and wood and stone.
We were not building, but approaching the
Slope of roofs and hills and spades, nearing that idea
Clothed in words and dissolute when spoken.