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Poetry – But We Made It

June 3, 2011

But We Made It

After which they had gone on to speak of their native hanuts, where every handful of soil had represented to them the dust of their ancestors, and every grain of that soil had been watered with the sweat of their brows, and become charged with dear and intimate recollections.“

Maxim Gorky, “Through Russia: A Book of Stories.”

It was a time of penury.

Ignorance as well, of anything

but the hard stones and cold sodden wood

that was our education.

But we were masters of these,

bilingual doctors of dirty

back-street workshops. Chisels

our mother, hammers our father.

No kindred but each other

and this place we’d slowly carved.

Snatching sleep during the day.

Cheating night its frosty emptiness

by sweating callouses over our bodies

for warmth. Chipping away

at granite millstones

the closest we’d come to grain.

We ourselves ate rocks.

Brackish water refreshed us.

Rainy nights cleansed us.

Rarely happy but ever content,

this place and each other

kept us burning.

Yet change persisted,

riding cavalier around us all.

Obstinate we continued

until we raised our hammers

and struck an empty ground.

Until we raised our chisels shakily

and let them just fall.

We leant forward and tumbled with them

into this place we made

for square stone blocks

fitting only one hole.

AJG

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