The Carver

The carver’s father was a carver and
From him he learned his trade spending his youth
In careful constant study of the craft.
And when his mother died his father carved
Her likeness, delicate, precise in beech,
His last creation, for the father followed
Succumbed at last, the same cruel plague beset
His aged body. So the son then carved
His sire in solid oak to stand beside
His mother, ever watchful household guards.
Soon after he did marry and was not
Unhappy for a time. But their first child
Was born as still as night before the dawn
And so he carved another figure far
Before its time, one he had hoped not ever
To carve. The tiny babe thus joined his dear
Departed ancestors. The years did pass.
Two more had died as infants, illness sent
Them down below. A son, so hale and hardy,
Both Sleep and Death in war did seize one day.
The next their daughter; childbirth sealed her fate.
Beech, oak, ash, walnut, alder, elm, and birch.
Thus seven stood together, constant needless
Reminders of the certain toll of life
In condign payment for Death’s temp’ral loan.
The carver and his wife did know each other’s
Pain, and so well, unspoken it remained.
Each was the other’s tether, tying each
To life. The wife was stronger and endured
But in the dark of night the figures seemed
To call to him and promise peace at last.
But when she died, he carved her true to life
For forty days and night rememb’ring their
Now forty years together. He would work
Now frantic, sending shavings like fall leaves
Upon the floor, now still and cutting not
But merely looking for his wife within
The wood. The day of labor’s final blow,
Marauding soldiers, hair in mats, eyes sunk,
Did drag the carver from his hovel and
Demand due payment for his life. Said he:
“I have no coin nor wealth, nothing to give
And not one thing save for my trade
And home.” And so his house they burned in sport
And broke his hand. The carver sat there mute
As greedy flames consumed the final piece
Of house and home. There ev’ry moment sweet
And bitter. Grim but smiling he did draw
To him his mother, father, children, wife
In one final embrace, and purged the hope
Of seeing them again here or hereafter.
He carved a figure crude and bent with age
And cares and, placed upon the smold’ring pile,
He walked away into the forest deep.

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