poetic interlude the third

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.

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