Trimming Out, 1911
Merriam Park, Saint Paul
Something more than stolid need
stands behind this polished work—
mitered molding, header, bead,
secret in the closet’s dark.
Some apprentice at his trade,
set to learn in hidden places,
told his passions plain, to braid
charms that even now enlace us
though we guess what binding-spells
overcame his calloused hands,
galled in gas-and-foxhole hells
seven years along, in France.
Ordinary human love
fails to hold the world in form.
Different rigors, soon enough,
wrung from dulce et decorum,
follow from the battlefront:
settling plaster cracked to crumbs,
simple comfort sunk to want,
houses hacked to rental rooms.
Dumb, occult, the beauties sit,
oak or maple, dark and sweet.
Mitered corners meet and fit.
Ghost Edwardians shade the street
down its hundred years of ill,
sullen in their crafts and arts.
We who merely buy and sell
strip them for replacement parts.