tagPoetry With AudioThe Blacksmith

The Blacksmith


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Click Here to listen. (3.25 min/RealMedia)

          In memory of my uncle
          William Jo Major 1913-1987

Within this realm
death is,
and death must be.

I dreamed I approached his shop at twilight
as his heavy hammer made the anvil sing
and entered the deeper dark
to watch as he, my uncle, naked to the waist,
illuminated by the forge's glowing coals,
beat his body's fleeting wisdom into iron.

"It needs some air, MacTavish," he rumbles
plunging the blood-red metal into the fire's heart.
I crank the bellow's breath till sparks fly up.
His sooty fingers slip through black unruly hair
that's streaked with horns of grey and then,
grasping the tongs, he smacks the white-hot bolt
          into the water's depths
and disappears behind a cloud of steam.

Could one, so charged with life, be dead?

He was not a simple man:
part clown, part philosopher,
partly brilliant, partly dunce,
huge-hearted, raging bear,
sublime and silly all at once.

one leg shorter than the other,
he walked with a flawed magnificence.

He embraced the fire, water, earth, and air
and never stood apart---
out of them he forged his life
               and shaped his human dreams
with the fragile magick hammer of his heart.

So now I grip the heavy hammer he has left
and touch an elemental power
that flows beyond the feeble reach
of the enslaved or enslaver.

Now I know at last,
that this deep strength
is my true heritage.

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