by Paul Cefalu

We expected gems or bluestone,
but as we dug through the loam and nimblewill,
we turned over fieldstone that smelled of fresh mint (or was it methane?)

We ransacked the slope, turning it inside out;

And I thought, after we'd brought those irregular stones to light:
we would build a wall; we would wall in the slope with its own bowels!

And so we stacked those stones, one by one,
until our gloves gave way and the stone dust clouded our eyes;

I passed my fingers along the capstone and marveled:
such ancient things, these dry walls of stone and gravel;

And this one was no exception, refusing to heave at this year 's first frost.

But these walls fail, I am told, and if you don't handle them properly,
the stones can take away your fingerprints forever.

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