The Marble Granite Man
climbs out of his big blue van.
Who he is and what he does –
Worktops, Kitchens, Bathrooms, Gardens, You Name It –
is glossed across the back and on each door
in gorgeous bianco carrara.
The Marble Granite Man is bald,
broad, burly, brawny – above all things SOLID –
like that cartoon character turned to living rock
heavier than the moon
by some cosmic misadventure.
today he’s in a benign state of mind
and when, in a moment or two, he walks up your path
the paving stones won’t shift or crack.
when The Marble Granite Man
is through with you
you’ll have a damn good deal
and a kitchen that will not dare
fly off in a wind.
Look at her carrying all the effort
and all the fun as they walk along
the terrific auburn autumn street
on a sunny Sunday afternoon
with all the neighbourhood here.
Why she must be getting on for
the shadow side of, well, middle age
and he right up there with her.
See how she moves: slender and assured
and stylish in that soft pale blouse, that skirt
a picture of patterned flow in turquoise,
sandals on her still-strong, still-tidy feet.
Why, I do believe she is dazzling us
– not one of those grim-faced women,
clenched and brooding, dragging along
beside their husbands, each step saying
it’s his fault his fault his fault
and I am trapped trapped trapped –
No! In his crisply muted browns and blues,
straw hat (beige, Havana), brogues,
this man never fails to deliver
attentiveness with subtle nods or tilt
of brim to all his wife points out to him.
And he’s smiling too, most of the time,
though now and then looks a little puzzled,
as if it might rain.
Not our thing in the dank, dark, dicky view
of things, the sea. Over it, the unwanted come:
men with lean backs and spears that ride the air
rather than lie still in the hand, as death
is supposed to, waiting to connect direct.
Connect direct with what is waiting is what we
are extremely good at: strutting on thick legbones
through the long cold sting of grasses, heaving
a barrelled torso, holding taut, flailing with the kill,
then folding down by fires and dancing a jig for joy.
Oh yes, we have fire, and dancing, and joy
though out there hangs a sky so small and swollen
you’d think dead skins were strung on its limits.
And though, beneath it today, over the old one
fallen in the snow we laid the wool of the beast and left her.
The tribe will never look back. It is a short life,
programmed to end on a dead note. Still,
we do come down to it, the sea, sniff its salt,
finger its far line, make an art out of skirting its wrath.
And once or twice in a lifetime, here at the edge, laugh.
I swear those are the same
goddam ducks from my days at the lake
when my life had a lake
and a house, and trees, and pathways
that drew me daily to them.
With nothing to their lives
but swimming in circles,
a little cacophony, weed,
sex and diving.
That was then. Today: excitement
of a different kind.
It is the hearing-aid-place day
with my dutied daughter – don’t get me wrong,
she’s a marvel, my daughter – for the ousting
Unclean unclean again;
no good to stack no-ears atop the rest of the rot –
feet, teeth, legs, lungs, crotch –
and so she wheels me along
beside the tree-sculptures and the pond
in the despicable chair
I’ve become heir to,
and I try to be nice.
She is cheerful.
‘A nice view, isn’t it, Dad?’
though what I see beyond these un-trees
is some landscaper-by-numbers’
fart-hearted feather-headed idea
of la-la land for the past-it.
But then over there,
though that bit of spit’s no lake,
in it I swear are those ducks,
the same loopy, dippy, backside-flipping goddam ducks.
Well, well. Hello boys.