Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"A Covenant In Concrete"

On a street
A dusty begrimed

Beneath an anchored
Squadron of newspaper racks
Each an altar of time

I came across messages ancient
Etched in cast stone squares

At first they appeared as Cuneiform
Or Hieratic script
Confused signals of age
In acid rain

Perplexed at first
I squatted before the dispensers
Of global knowledge
As if I were a neo-savage from some
Dystopian future

Clarity came with oily gutter water
Sprinkled then wiped
Into carved letters
I read:

“On this corner I first saw you and fell in love.-Aug ‘47”

Then below that in the same hand:

“I proposed to you on this corner. Aug ‘49.”

Scooping water onto poured stone
I searched for more messages and found:

“Isaac, Sarah and Jacob you gave to me.- ‘50, ‘53 and ‘59.”

As I read age and palsy seemed to grip my stone mason. The lines now faint have lost their vigor:

“You left me at this corner, to prepare a seat for me in the hall of our Lord.- ‘01”

My stone mason etched a final line
With an arrow marking
What once was
Cleared space

Beneath another altar
NY Times paper box
A younger hand appeared
Reminiscent shadow hand
Carving lines with bull tendon strength

They read:

“Concrete Paving
Humanities Artificial
Made Holy
Real and Tangible
Fruits of Love
Visible Only to Those
Who Look Down from Moneyed Heights
Witnessing a City
Is Made of People Not Buildings
West. 54th Street
Is So Much More Than
A Boulevard of Intersections
Fifty Four Years of Marriage
Three Children
Six Grandchildren
A Family
Place Stones Here
Carve Their Hearts History
Making Their Covenant


DS Baker

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