We gave a beautiful poem to a talented sculptor. You won't believe what happened.
There was an age when you played the records
with ordinary steel needles which grew blunt
and damaged the grooves or with more expensive
stylus tips said to be tungsten or diamond
which wore down the records and the music receded
but a friend and I had it on persuasive authority
that the best thing was a dry thorn of the right kind
and I knew where to find one of those off to the left
of the Kingston Pike in the shallow swale
that once had been forest and had grown back
into a scrubby wilderness alive with
an earthly choir of crickets blackbirds finches
crows jays the breathing of voles raccoons
rabbits foxes the breeze in the thickets
the thorn bushes humming a high polyphony
all long gone since to improvement but while
that fine dissonance was in tune we rode out
on bicycles to break off dry thorn branches
picking the thorns and we took back the harvest
and listened to Beethoven’s Rassoumoffsky
Quartets echoed from the end of a thorn.
W. S. Merwin
©2014 W. S. Merwin, all rights reserved. Used by permission of the author and publisher Copper Canyon Press. Film ©2014 Motionpoems, Inc., all rights reserved.