Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
I am in the wood, gravel, and mountain-water business.
I handle, for one thing, a summer-morning raw-sweet smell
Of peeled logs piled on wet stones.
I mix this more or less
With sawdust and Vermont air in the open shed of a saw-mill.
August or November, buy as you like it, wood, water, stone,
You'll get words rippled down-river over pebbles, words about
White pine slabs, coughed gasoline from the day-long engine,
And the soft-hard sound of planks being piled by length and butt.
As a man of sense, sir, you'll count out the hundred-odd rings,
So many rings at the cut ends of logs. You'll want my wild,
My steep remembered moss-dripping woods-places in your figuring.
There are reaches of water in black pools, deep, deep, cold.
Sometimes when the sawmill engine runs slow, I hear summer,
A hum somewhere on the hill beyond the stream; in the stream
Cold water rolling the white gravel over; in sunlight or
Shadowed under near trees the sawdust piling up to dry or damp.
Order now what you need for whatever you most hope to build.
I'll flow it to you down a long running of stony water,
Words, wood, chopped clean, chips where the trees are felled,
Wood, words, the sun still warm in them, the taste bitter.