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Walking on the Roof

This morning I struggle to sit in bent meditation,
holding fast to the words thy will, over and over.
The words drift ahead in the field of vision,
careening around corners, in flight.
Thy will. I follow its tail lights.
The landscape tilts. Thy will.
The motion finally slows after
a quarter of an hour. My breath slows.
Thy will. Two beats. Thy will. Bam. Bam.
A third beat enters. Bam. Bam. Bam.
It is my father, the carpenter, laying shingles
on our roof, the lake cottage in Olney, fifty years ago.
I am a child in the house, listening.
Always three beats, three strikes with the hammer.
The last harder, flattening the nail head on the shingle.
He holds the nails between his lips,
a tailor with his straight pins. Sewing his shroud.
Bam. Bam. Bam. Three beats of his heart.
Under my breath, out into the emptiness without bounds,
I make mantra of my father’s hammer strikes
above me. Bam. Bam. Bam.