I love to see you draw the hammer back.
It pauses there up in the air, a bird behind your ear
hovering to survey a vast country for one spot,
and it shines silver as light undercuts and buoys it
and my face shines too, reflecting its weighty
and polished determination pocked
with little flaws—now I feel them in my skin:
scars, dints of earlier strikes, or openings
for senses that want to be much deeper than they are
but still see only what’s before them. The claw
scrolls out, is wind made stainless steel,
a breeze of someone’s being about to run so freely
the mere intention already lifts and curves his hair
into an ancient image of future power.
The wooden handle stabs the steel and the head
clutches the wood and your hand at the apogee
moves just a little without moving at all,
like upper reaches of a still tree, but the angles
at wrist and elbow, the distortion of the shoulder
are only there now to vanish, only stand
in a forest of vanishings: you bring the hammer down.
A. F. Moritz won the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection The Sentinel. He has translated Chilean Canadian writer Ludwig Zeller’s The Rules of the Game into English.