Hans Ostrom

(1954 / California)

A Hod-Carrier Reflects


Stone walls get the last word.
This wall, my father built. He’s dead.
It stands. He hefted each rock, troweled
mortar, composed High-Sierra granite,
quartz, diorite, mariposite, slate. Made
the thing true, good, pleasing, and useful.

I mixed and wheeled the gray “mud, ”
cleaned tools and rocks, etched
mortar lines, tacked into storms
of his cursing, laughed and sweated
with him. The ones who ordered up
the wall are gone, replaced by ones
who don’t know who the mason was.

The wall’s become a secret,
an encoded version of my father,
his work and way with stone. The wall
is obvious, obscure, plain, inscrutable.
No one cares I know who built it, nor
would I argue anyone should.
That’s the way it is with masonry,
which gives the last word to the wall.

Submitted: Friday, October 19, 2007
Edited: Monday, April 18, 2011

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  • Rookie - 10 Points Yen Cress (10/19/2007 9:58:00 PM)

    Perhaps that's why we write. A wall may last for eons, its builder forgotten and unknown. But a well-written poem has a shot at immortality, and the poet may be revered. And so we write...and hope... (Report) Reply

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