August 28, 2008

A Carpenter Poem

On September 14th at 2 pm, Jamaica Plain's Carpenter Poets are performing in Forsyth Chapel, which one of the poet referred to as "a carpenter's dream." In reading about the poets and their work, I came across this wonderful poem by Bill Thibodeau, entitled "Carpenter's Answer." Enjoy.

Carpenter's Answer

As a boy I would sit in a tree by a stream
Pretending the cherries were stars in my dream
And I was the Master on far-away seas
On the deck of my ship in a tropic night breeze.
But there came a day when that tree felt the axe,
And there was that stream that my youth could not pass.
I gave up the sea for the family trade
The hammer and nail - the bit and the blade.
My father bequeathed me his knowledge and name
He was his own man - would I be the same?
What shall I make now I'm given these tools-
Shall I build me a bridge - with hammer and rule?
Will I then cross that stream to the opposite side-
Fording stream after stream with the sun as my guide?
Will I make that far seaport while day is still young
Will I be aboard when the lanterns are hung?
Or will I search in these fields for my foundation stone
Would contentment be found in what others have known?
Would I build me a house bound by water and wood
Mortised and tenoned as post and beam should?
Plaster and lathe and colonial shakes
Yellow pine floors - cut nailed to the face?
Would I find me a woman whom I could lay claim to
And then build us a child that we'd pin our name to?
Could I build us a hope and a dream wrought in rhyme
And set it to music in the happiest time
Then dance to that tune with my woman and son
In my heart, in my arms, once the deed had been done?
Would I build me a gate to my white picket yard-
With a swing on a limb and Collie on guard?
Would the universe bloom with my cherry tree
For my son in the way that it once did for me?
And once I've carved out a world from this spherical stone
Which spins in the ether - its substance unknown
Can I live with the thought that I never will touch
What is sacred to drifters and dreamers and such?
And would a day ever pass - that I would not ache
For the sea - once I'd built my home on this lake?
Then I see that boy on a swing - and my wife...
I take a deep breath and say: "This is my life."

Taken from the collection Break Time by the Carpenter Poets of Jamaica Plain (2007) edited by Joseph Bergin.

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