We interrupt our regular blogging for this poetic interlude:
JOHN HENRY WAKES IN THE NIGHT
Awakened with the silence
Under the roof, the night’s cold rain
And thunder sounding patternless noise
Above, his eyes open to find where
Darkness fails in the hearth’s faint glow,
John Henry lies still to find himself.
Gusts rise suddenly to stir
The storm’s chaotic fury and wind
Its net about the cabin, its flood
Running down to meet the waters
Rising in the spring overflowing the fen
Incipient to the stream.
The dream returns.
John Henry stands darkly hammer in hand
One step beyond the clearing with the trees,
The cold rain washing the warmth from his skin.
There around his cabin, prancing with torchlight
The ghosts clothed in white, dunce caps
For some reason worn with honor,
Call their invitation for him to taste
The waters of Acquinas’ spring.
Frustrated by his silence they break
A window with a burning faggot,
Cheering the flames rising in the night
Never understanding how he watches from the dark.
The memory returns, the bonfire burns
In the village circle, his people dance
And sing with the griot’s
Lead and drumbeat. John Henry
Lays two more logs on the fire
That collapses, condenses under their weight.
The griot pauses and watches the sparks
Flaring and flashing and rising
To die in the night above.
His clan stills in wonder of what
He has seen when he turns to John Henry
And says, “When you meet with death,
Keep your hammer in your hand.”
John Henry sits and smoors his fire,
Keeping the coals until morning
And wanting the darkness until then.
He picks up his hammer from
Beside the door to place by his bed
And returns to sleep, sparks
Waiting to be struck by the steel’s strike,
The rain drumming on his roof.
That concludes this poetic interlude. We will return soon to our regular blogging with another piece on the hippocampus.