June 23, 2017
Too late I found what’s truly mine.
This time, a pile of papers,
poems, on huge scraps, meant
to be nailed to his cut boards.
How long had they been there
piled by the shed,
next to his planks of polished wood.
The artist cut his shapes just right,
to mount my poems to stay, he’d said,
to be made permanent, he’d said.
That’s why he left it all
for me to find one sunless day.
And what place do I go for help?
Too soon, I saw they just didn’t fit,
my poems upon his careful work.
At whose house can I seek instruction,
to press my paper into shapes, rounded
to nailed surfaces I did not make.
I followed the curve of his grain
as I should, with my hand and glue,
refining the words to fit his frames.
Not out of vanity but sheer will of force,
trying the stain again and again,
smoothing the words to wrap around
what wood already stood.
What did it take to hear my own news,
that to insist is not to win.
That intention is not prophecy, that
I’d have to find my own wood,
its own shape, my own shed.
I’m to cut my own planks, fit my own words,
make it new, not to rely on the dead.
- Grace Cavalieri