Log Cabin Chronicles


The Indifferent Thing


Long winters he sat
while I crawled there on the floor,
his back gripped
by the upholstered chair;
legs motionless,
feet exact:
The pediments of a reason
that arched distantly overhead,
like the weather.
It was an indifferent thing
to be a man.


All summer
I drove an old Ford
through lands
of the creditless dead.
They flayed
with the knotted rags
of heartbreak.
I held on to the wheel
with only two hands
It was just the wind.

I crossed
a great river
again and again,
till it shrank
to a mere twig,
a wand
or cudgel
stricken from the hand---
It lay there
in the pool of its own shadow.
I stepped over it,
retracing my path
among herds, now indistinct.
Their breathing
like a far-off storm.


Every day I put key to lock,
and entered a place
of dim voices,
to make my way through
an empty store, amid
rows of old books,
a pantheon of strange gods
I had learned to ignore...


At home,
under scaffolds of shadow
erected over stairwell
and door, I speak with his voice
and hold my face in his hands
and learn to become
my own father.

Joel Spector is a Vermont poet and bookbinder.

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Copyright © 2000 Joel Specter