Robbie Burr Eginton
Let me begin. I am
a Grinder. Bones are what I grind.
I come from a long line.
And I haven’t spoken recently
to a child, but
childhood well –
remember half cocked, livid, nowhere to climb.
I mean to come on strong;
maybe we can get acquainted here.
You can’t know a man until you know his profession.
Will you get to know me, boy? Will you
walk with me while I explain
how to grind an Englishman?
In my work
I don’t use many metal tools
save a knife to ease the husking;
instead I push my hands
at what-was-flesh, unrigging it,
at huddled masses of unincorporated cells
and through fluids.
Where at first they are dead bodies, tangent to my table,
when I’m halfway through they carpet it
and run apart through its grooves.
And then the grinding of the bare bones.
And then the baking of the white meal,
into bones into
bread I come (from a long line) from my workshop
with no remorse Jack
I am tired though
and a Grinder is what I am;
when I go to church my body
is loose lost fumbling in the blind pew.
Still you don’t know that my mother asked for no husband,
and raised me up in this tall thin house;
suckled me in the nursery down the hall, you must have passed it.
And I chose to walk the church with a ruddy girl,
purple pink and dust her skin -
but you’ve met my wife. You clung to her
breasts like her own babe, though I think your thoughts were less than filial.
But you will never know her, never
work in her as sunrise works in night,
as my grindstone in bone.
I still remember - it’s not easy to forget -
my mother’s motto, passed to me:
fee, fie, foe –
the holding of land
second the cursing of lovers
and third, one on whom you’ll have to set your sight,
someday, Jack, who will
want you gone.