This is our family Bison. My Grandpa Jack sculpted it and it has moved with us throughout the years, quietly keeping watch by the fireplaces. Today doing “loga”, as it is called in our house, I looked up from a particularly good stretch and looked at it for a few good breaths. I love everything about our Bison. I love its heft, the weight of the bronze appropriate for its subject, its somehow-worldly eyes, its beard. Most of all, I love the fact that my Grandpa Jack made one for most everyone in our family, and that it will continue its sentinel over our family for decades, maybe even centuries to come (will my girls argue over whose hearth he rests upon? will they take turns passing her back and forth, at Mae’s for a year and then at Harper’s? Will they understand its value?).
These questions inspired this:
Bison, in Bronze
(for Grandpa Jack)
The mold begins with wax in a block and implements for carving.
The artist is chary, he works in pauses like a boy learning to read,
waiting for the ciphers to line up and speak before cutting the deepest lines.
When he works with this wax in his hands he remembers their weight, his hands
though recently they have grown to look lighter and flecked with mud.
Sometimes he has to remind himself that they belong to him.
As his subject speaks through the medium in swells and grooves
he admires its towering stillness and imagines how he must feel
Earth spinning around his own great mass.
Next field over from the artist’s prairie home the hollywood man’s herd stands
and in the winter they snort steam into the air,
signaling to the stars their location.
The other animals have no pity for this beast, even when grass is scarce.
He is carving the eyes now, and in them he puts everything that has been,
everything that has stood for centuries,
and everything that has been lost.
The mold is finished now, and the result brings a memory.
A family trip, one of the boys (which one?) running toward the standing herd,
as without fear as those he runs to.
When a bison dies in the wild, he feeds the forest for weeks and months,
the birds play games with his innards,
and his bones become tools for the lucky.
The artist casts his hopes in molten metal.
Though he has seen bronzes of wildlife fetch a pretty penny
in the galleries that cater to not-from-’round here
his real legacy will stand sentinel on his grandchildren’s fireplaces
that it is good to make things with your own two hands, and to count your blessings.
Here, just in case you didn’t get the Bison poem, or are just jonesin’ for another poem, is one by Anne Sexton about the objects that dream and wear new costumes:
The Room of My Life
BY ANNE SEXTON
in the room of my life
the objects keep changing.
Ashtrays to cry into,
the suffering brother of the wood walls,
the forty-eight keys of the typewriter
each an eyeball that is never shut,
the books, each a contestant in a beauty contest,
the black chair, a dog coffin made of Naugahyde,
the sockets on the wall
waiting like a cave of bees,
the gold rug
a conversation of heels and toes,
a knife waiting for someone to pick it up,
the sofa, exhausted with the exertion of a whore,
two flowers taking root in its crotch,
opening and closing like sea clams,
poking at me,
lighting up both the soil and the laugh.
the starving windows
that drive the trees like nails into my heart.
Each day I feed the world out there
although birds explode
right and left.
I feed the world in here too,
offering the desk puppy biscuits.
However, nothing is just what it seems to be.
My objects dream and wear new costumes,
compelled to, it seems, by all the words in my hands
and the sea that bangs in my throat.
Happy Sunday, people. May you all have a Monday that blows most Monday’s outta the water.