The Old Questions
Renee Carter Hall
He works as though he's revealing
what was imprisoned in wood:
the raised head, nostrils flared, ears alert,
the mane a tumble of turning curls.
Each muscle tenses under the grain,
tightening as he carves and shapes,
ready for an elegant leap.
Behind him, the lion's teeth are sanded sharp.
These animals will never circle a calliope--
the new carousels use fiberglass and plastic
for their hollow, unbreathing shells.
How many will mind
the loss of hands that rubbed
each inch to glossy perfection?
How many respect that he still carves?
And what's more worthy, all considered--
carving wooden horses to be admired
at art shows, to stand enshrined
in the homes of the wealthy,
or producing the cheap imitations
that, though artless,
carry children laughing and kicking
through the sun-bright music of summer?
And if those rich collectors stand
and gaze wistfully at the painted saddle
and remember long-passed summers--
what of that?
© 2002 Renee Carter Hall