Treasure Island

John Garth Raubenheimer

(21/12/1947 / Johannesburg)

A Lesson From The Master


'So you're from South Africa - '

Wolves discipled into lambs,
the carver's hands
- fingernails clipped short and square as chisels -
browse, off duty. Froth settles in his beer.
Relaxed in his well-travelled armchair,
he reminds you of your first school headmaster.
Eyes humerous, humoured, clear sky-bright.
'Then you must know a thing or two.'

He winks.
'Now then.'
He blows a strong puff, clearing the dust from a treasure.
'Nice grapes hmm?
But see the grain. Or if you like, don't see,
like the student who carved - or plucked -
this bunch. I'm not saying who he was.'
The fingers scan. His eyes horizon forty years.

'You need to start with the grain, because
the grain is the life of the wood.'
You nod to show you've understood.
'These grapes have everything...
but they don't have life. '

He puts down the piece,
picks up another. His eyes glow softly.
'When we follow the grain - '

Stroking a pensive woman's face.
Glory of curls around knots in the wood.
'We free a mystery.

Our Jean carved this before she died.
She'd lost all her hair.
So, did life know what was wanted here? '

Submitted: Thursday, July 19, 2007
Edited: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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Topic(s): Art

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

In memory of Donald Wilcox.

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