Lignum Vitae

What wood is this?
Olive or oak, cedar or pine?
Unsuited for the cabinet makers art.
Unfit for turning, inlay, elegance,
too warped for any honest use,
door frame or ladder or carriers cart.
What wood is this?
Sold cheap to minimise the growers loss.
Too many knots, too twisted,
no good except for firewood or a cross.
What wood is this?
Rough joints, rope lashings
hold it together for the task ahead
and the carpenters hands
that might have shaped it
as they shaped the world
are made to drag it through the streets instead.
What wood is this?
It is the wood of death,
the wood of life.

9 years 2 months ago
Absolutely lovely and very moving. Bernard has a real gift for very evocative poetry.

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