How hard the clay that nearly sends bounding
back up your shovel, and leaves day's end
fingertips buzzing from the handle's
sent reverbs, hitting the pit:
polished blue-grey, shovel-carved sides,
in which their long-locked stones, by shovel-tongue clipped,
squeak small sparks in the heart of the dull hole.
Three of us all round the circle, groaning;
you ever seen clay like this before, is
the unspoken converse we make with the
jolting of shovels and our lifting out
the piecemeal tack we manage to break off.
How is the tree going to thrive in this
ceramic casing we shape with our shovels?
Will survive, yes, not though thrive - though
that may change as it sheds its leaves through years
that works its way down to where nothing
of its like really made its way down before
and unkilns, unfires this half-kilned clay.
And there also is the foreign soil
we bed in around the burlapped root ball,
to which its feeder roots will reach, backing
somewhat away from the dense clay: it may change.
In the threatening rain-spit, over the pit,
we shovel this promise; clay we remove
like the hollowing out of the heart's dregs
saying look, I am still clay, but I have
hollowed out, not hoarded, been humoured
with the pain of a proposal, purged
believing and acting on a promise.
We do these signal things: hollow out holes
like proposal rings; asking for a
once-forever joining, jolting, sparking
sparks like seed sent into the ready womb:
the intercourse that from the blue begets
wholly other fruit, from a one-flesh tree.