Friday, July 10, 2015

there is magic in concrete

there is magic in concrete
    if you believe

    building forms
at some point it’s inevitable:
    you are on your knees in mud
    your eye to the earth, your butt
         to the air
for meticulous muscle-work

chop rebar in a shower of sparks
    weaving steel rod, suspended
    by wires, twist pliers
learn the names:
    doughboy, waler
         pier cage, stirrup

the mix, the pour
    no second chances now
spread and level
    wading in boots
shake the gray depths, vibrate
    voids not welcome

then you work the surface
    flat, in circles,
with the tool called a ‘float’
    (because that’s what it does)
buoyant on a gray puddle
and here’s the enchantment
    or else I’m just weird but
with fingertips on the handle you can
    sense the wet concrete, the mojo
    like a sleeping wet bear
solid in mass yet grudgingly liquid
    sort of bouncy
    as you stroke

hold the leading edge
    at a slight upward angle
         avoid plowing
pebbles disappear, embedded
the tool is sucking cement
    a final thin film, a pretty coat
    over guts of gravel and sand
for a finish, swipe smooth
    or brush
    or groove,
edging, an art
now hose the mixer, shovels, tools,
    hose your hands and boots
as the water disappears, so shall you
    unless you scratch a name

honor the skilled arms,
    the corded legs and vertebral backs
    the labor that shaped
this odd stone
    sculpted, engineered
    implanted with bolts
half-buried in dirt
bearing our lives

©copyright 2015 by Joe Cottonwood. All rights reserved.