In 1919 my grandfather carved
the lettering for both Carnegie and Frick,
clear, clean, and crisp as the ten commandments.
In ’37 my old man chiseled Mellon’s stone.
I visited it once.
Rain-spattered dirt and dead leaves
dirtied the slate-gray stone.
Just like everyone else’s.
My son, a computer software engineer,
tells me I’m the master of a dying art,
then laughs. I don’t see the humor.
When I hold the chisel
and the brass-capped mallet,
I feel the calluses of my forefathers,
how soon they disappeared
from the census, how with each tap
I journey closer to the end,
how white lung chips away at my last breath,
and how the lilies of the field
are the hardest flowers to carve.
This poem first appeared in the third issue of A Baker’s Dozen 2012. I really like the last stanza and especially the last line.
Don Narkevic lives in Weston, West Virginia and earned his MFA from National University. His recent poetry has appeared in Convergence Review, Earth Speak and Off the Coast. Don’s recent short story publications include Colere and the anthology Seeking the Swan. In 2005, Main Street Rag published Laundry, a poetry chapbook. Also in 2005, The Interview won second place in the Playwright’s Circle competition.
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