Tag Archives: blacksmith

An Austro-Canadian in Italy

Two weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to join a group of Austrian blacksmiths on their journey to the world blacksmithing championship in Stia, Italy. This poem is a sort of culmination of the various interesting experiences I had there – from hole-in-the-floor bathrooms, to five-course meals, they sure had it all.

We drive into a game of Minecraft
pass anti-terrorist stations without a bother
(The bar lifts, no need for passports)
drive on, drive on through a European Philippines

Public enemy: public bathrooms
without seats, without that northern need to pay
no fifty-cent charge, no landlocked terrain
Order pasta without a word of Italian
like a multi-cultural sage stricken mute

Up, up, up the mountains
passing Lego cars, tiny as the collective imagination
The buildings all brick; the rock all sedimentary
Layers upon layers follow us into no-man’s-land

Dinner that day is traditional
Serve me once, shame on you
Serve me twice, shame on me
Serve me three times –
where did all these courses come from?
Serve me five times, we’re in Italy

Back and forth like the ‘scape
Hammers ring and people mime like pros
Before we know it the bus is loaded
beers before midday, Austrian cheers
prayers sung at mealtime, prost
the works

We drive back out of that Minecraft game
into the familiar expanse of Terraria

M.
Sept 1-16/17

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Hands

I attended by best friends’ wedding this week, and I couldn’t help but notice how different my stubby, scarred blacksmith hands look compared to those of most other young women. So I did what I do, and wrote a poem about it:

too long it’s been for me to change these hands
my fingers curl, my fist here ready stands
were I a girl, I’d have less blemished skin
stretched over knuckles rough like battered sands

at least, that’s what the universe here cries
when peering down my forearms with its eyes
the scars and burns stand proud despite its glare
each cicatrix a story here describes

it’s tempting, still, to heed the sacred lie
that states I am what I look like and buy
defiant cries from surface, screen, and air
once muddled, focus, then my strength belie

“the outside can be changed,” the TV calls
the ads flash bright, the colored screen enthralls
and I look down, the difference too stark
my skin more marred beside these whitewashed walls

disarming, how a sight can make you see
both forest and the lonesome standing tree
and I, that tree, think sometimes that to stand
alone is worse than leaving all of me

and yet, return from that most dangerous thought
is brought by comfort and with sunlight bought
the golden rays pass hands in great exchange
bring color to my arms, til they burn hot

my fingers can now hold the very fire
that runs beneath my veins in friendly ire
and pick up steel turned orange by the forge
that formed my scars, did every burn inspire

refusal to give in to what they say
has led to holding fire in this way
for with each mark the sunlight here cements
a hold upon my hands and heart each day

each morning I look up to see the sky
hands raised in praise, no though of asking why
no blemishes, no failures mar my skin
each scar is beauty – beauty found within

M.
Jun 26/17