Excerpts from MILLSTONES


From the exhibition Stone, Water, Time, a collaboration with artist Lyric Kinard, Cary Arts Center, North Carolina, Summer 2019

STONE

The millstone set in a front yard
at the intersection of two roads
in Carrboro, North Carolina,

knows what we lost

in all that talk of stone,
stone against stone, which is best
for grinding, which can be got,
at what price;

what we lost

of the quarryman’s work,
the miller’s and the blacksmith’s and the mason’s,
and flour dust and stone dust
in the lungs, the hunger.

The dried corn, jittering and shushing
in the hopper, the crackling quick-cut scissoring
grind between the millstones,
runner stone, bedstone, gossip and negotiations.
What is lost of the stone’s own language,
that comes in long slow waves,
stone years in the coming.

WHEEL

Water,
pouring

into the sluice and splashing
down the vanes
of the waterwheel,

hour after hour, as long
as there is water.

The clang and thunk of the water gate.

Old wood,
creaks, squeaks, scrapes,

the song of wood against wood
and wood against metal.

Metal,
a drone,
the round and round

of the spindle, the oiled gears, sliding
and whirring.

Water,
pouring.


SCRAPS

This millstone:

not one
but seventeen stones, cut
and pieced like a pieced quilt,

bound in a hoop of iron.

Burr stone, stone harps
for us to play on.

Oculus, eye
that draws the eye.

Little field,
with its lands, and what’s left
of its sharp, straight furrows.

Mappa mundi,
in mildew and lichen,
in cavities and grain and inclusions,

its whole long story,
and the world
of our projections.

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