Dedication on the Occasion of the Next War and its MemorialThis bell has but one tone rung over the heads of tourists on the village spread below in brown patois, an even sound to draw them on their somnambulant intent. Where they go, (they go bent under the weight of slow sand) they go oblivious of wheat underfoot they repeat the shuffle of old men ground at the mill, they stack their faces rolled thin and various. On occasion one will remark It has been a load, Sam. There is that to be said, steadfast and reliable until it was past time, when the overdo-ness of it finally sunk in and the one would lay down and the next, but we need not repeat the ring will hammer thin sheets of twilight into hope hard won, these stars cold and metallic: touch one, old ones die, and one by one each of the sons try on the shadows of their fathers the fathers fall away, ghostly and pale thin drawn in a circle puffed (of) air blown against the ring of the glass that hath but a tone a tone as if all, so certain, brings surprise, a ringing near their eyes to rise against the falling of the curtain with all determination to try again, but why? 2. We had hoped, and all that hope was on that day they tried in unshod feet -- the trod of supplicants to a thirsty well -- and which of us who knew, knew our place, ever knew when it was done, but hoped, more's the pity or the grace, that we didn't, they would and we could only stand idle by idle by in the shift of these [said] sands (oh, how lovely that sounds then) the ring of it that now resounds, mere stones clink down the sides that slope away into the night on a penny's toss of hope and how easily we might, in silence, condescend now it is spare song in such thin apparel but how the people sway to and fro on their way from here to there and their families collide in estimated purposes, looking into wooden boxes, side-by-side, the coin clinks with the even-ness of day by day as we stack them in lots worn, and worn through, they recite the tracts of Sisyphus by heart and by ones or twos in each backward glance depart. It was not the rock, had never been but what was, what the rock was, a resistance that had rolled roundish in some bitterness of great price, had worn them to the callous bone, the martyrs rock ground and pounded into sand lift by lift the grains sifted around their feet a ring of grains, grass grains built but for a momentary stand under that aged skin, annealed hand in hand they stood in the glazed indifference, in the ring of the sheaver's clock picked up a scythe newly whet and sighed the sigh of dying wheat scarred and rough as the mocking moon with our heals dug in and did what we did rocking back and forth 3. It was a job we could only throw onto the scaffold of our bodies and hope that halfway there, and hope they might but to repeat the sounds we wore, some in a gesture of gay defense, others under the great gray tent of our indifference, would be driven to the fields by such ancillary discontents as we could find could someday -- half-way from here to there we would try again -- in wheat or rice plant our feet, the millstones in their rows, watch the tourists passing overhead in all that we had thus prepared for them, in dull gray wear we weary of their speech and repeat their speeches as they come, and as they go we ring out sand from rags we've twisted in our callused hands, rung the gritty warmth from them by the handsfull passeth over grain by grain enternities of sand that slip, slipping away into the sleep of glass and overhead, the tourists pass this way, to repeat again, the knell in its appalling tones with rags, brown rags about their feet they come by twos this time, by twos and stand, knell by knell over the patience of the sand they kneel and review © 1999 red slider. All rights reserved.
'Red Slider, 1999-2014
from "Noguchi — The Man Who Entered Stone",
BigBridge Press (2000)