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Monday, 2 April 2012

from the age of Truth to Material

With spokeshave, gouge and whittling tools,
but spokeshave most of all,
my father eased his shapes from blocks of wood,
and if I asked, he'd say the forms were - mostly -
there, already lodged within the grain.
He only had to feel his way -
the grain would guide him in.
He made it sound like they'd been trapped,
imprisoned by the tree.

Mostly what he made were golf club heads,
but now and then a porpoise or a wren,
a chicken or a rat would see the light of day.
I found this magical, and often after a new birth
would go in search of further denizens of wood.
And I would find them too! Snakes by the bucket load,
but lions, ferocious bulls, giraffes and elephants as well.

In a plank my granddad bought
I found a whole menagerie
and made up tales about them all,
explaining how they'd come to be
encased in seven feet of polished wood.
He placed it high above the bench in the top shed
and left it there for months to be
my Lascaux, Altamira and La Marche.

I never did find golf club heads.


18 comments:

Daydreamertoo said...

Such rich and happy memories to treasure. I've always loved the smell and feel of wood too. Think it's to do with knowing it is alive in its own way.
I would think watching things being created was pretty magical.

Mary said...

A person who brings blocks of wood to life in whatever shapes has my admiration. This poem is a keeper...for the next generation! Consider a chapbook.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Dave - I read "The Waterfall" first - and again would advise that this masterpiece made me swear!

Your work actually brings excitement and fullness to my chest - it just fills me up!

Bloody marvellous!

Anna :o]

Kat Mortensen said...

It's easy to see that your imagination was honed at an early age, but did not stop there!

I love that cheeky, "Snakes by the bucket load,".

Did you spend a good deal of time alone as a child? I was an only child until I was nine, and I think that has much to do with the interior life that I cultivated.

I find driftwood to be fascinating too.

This was fantastic - in every sense of the word.

zongrik said...

i like the scary animals at the end of S2

semantic feeling

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Your "Lascaux, Altamira and La Marche". The power of What Was.

A house in the countryside is for me exactly that, or my memory of it... because now only the outside walls are the same as in the past...

Windsmoke. said...

Sadly the craft of wood carving is slowly dying out and is being replaced with mass produced rubbish that has no spirit or soul :-).

Cait O'Connor said...

This poem reminds me of my much-loved Michelangelo saying 'I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free'.

rch said...

Hey Dave this one is great, just love the memories and how you've presented them, above par ;^)

haricot said...

Nature vividly live in your memory without pollution, and the image gives me a magical power...

Jenny Woolf said...

Like the phrase about easing the shapes from the wood. Sometimes you can indeed see them trapped in there. Also like the Lascaux images, although in fact I often think it must be harder to find the shapes in rock and marble.

Carl said...

Wonderful again. Thanks for another winner.

Brian Miller said...

you know...somethings are more precious than golf club heads...smiles...love the memories dave...beautifully spun...

*** said...

I keep on thinking 'persimmon', and then it is only a small step to persimmon porpoises :-)
Would they be in any of those caves, I wonder.

Short poems said...

What a wonderfully realistic piece of written, Dave

Warmly
Marinela

Mary said...

One more comment: I am so glad you linked this to Poetry Jam. I thought, after I had read it, that it was a perfect fit!

Dave King said...

Daydreamertoo
Yes, where on the dark days would we be without such memories? Thanks.

Mary
I never ceased to find it amazing, but what most impressed me, I think, was his reverance for the wood - though, of course, I couldn't have named it as that at the time. Somehow, though, I sensed there was something special about his relationship with the material.

hyperCRYPTICal
Thank you so much, I shall treasure this. It means a lot to me, not least because of what my memories of him mean.

Kat
Not alone, exactly, but I had a lot of bad health, spent a lot of time in bed and took to books and drawing. Yes, I too am fascinated by driftwood. Thanks for the comment.

Tommaso
Yes, that's it: the power of what was. I understand exactly the house in the country reference.

Windsmoke
I join you in your sorrow. Thanks for saying.

Cait
Yes, exactly. I know what he meant. Apt comment. Thank you.

rch
Very many thanks for this. good to know.

haricot
Music to my ears, your words. Thank you very much for them.

Jenny
Yes, I imagine you are right, though Henry Moore, for example would choose marble that was stained - which Michelangelo wnever would have - because the stain was suggestive and he could use it in some way. Which I always thought was getting close to what you might encounter carving wood.

Carl
Much thanks for this.

Brian
Not sure dad would have agreed with that - quite. If only because it was his living, but no, not just that!! (Still, I know what you mean. Thanks)

Short poems
Hi. Welcome to you. Many thanks for your kind comment.

Mary
Generous words indeed. Thank you very much.

Ygraine said...

What a precious talent - to have the ability to capture and immortalise the Totem Spirit within the tree.
Long may the skills of our Ancestors continue!