for my grandfathers, Andrea and Nicola, masons in the old country
Old stone, broken to domesticity,
I bend above you, slicing the dull bread
of days, while you are stuff of monuments,
matter of altars and memorials
and gravestones. May your heaviness forget
this grunt work. Heave your deeper history
out of the magma’s red churn and the long,
long geologic mix that broods and mulls
your varicolored sparks. Be massed, immense.
Someone once mourned them both as fore-defeated—
stonecutters, poets. Here is a counter-prayer:
Old stone, remembrance of my forebears’ skills,
hold out. Outlast the shallow dignity
of human lifetimes, with their brief pretense.