As you grew up you knew your town—
the pool hall across from the grain elevator,
the Chevy Garage on Highway 14 by the Red Rooster Cafe.
When you moved to a city where the work was
you were lost. Tall buildings blocked the view,
endless grids. You wandered,
and found a route to a job
where you cut rectangular holes in marble slabs
for sinks to slide into.
You loved the shop. Slabs leaned against the walls
like fat leaves of a giant book, smooth and solid.
It seemed unfair to cut holes in them but you did,
and began taking to your room the marble you cut out,
heavy, but like maps with roads or rivers,
or tablets come down from the mountain.
You traced their twisting lines
that merged with others that faded away,
or were cut off at the edges.
They didn’t help you find your way in the city,
but helped you find the way in your head.
Over time they piled up in your room
so thick the floor began to bow.
You loved to rub them—cool to the touch
with just enough resistance.
Carrara you said to yourself,
the melodic sound of the quarry
away off on another continent,
like a woman’s name, exotic,
and out of reach.
Vincent Wixon is the author of various books of poems, including Blue Moon: Poems from Chinese Lines (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2010), The Square Grove (Traprock Books, 2006), and Seed (May Day Press, 1993). His poem “Tornado Weather” appears in Garrison Keillor’s anthology, Good Poems, American Places. He is co-producer of two videos on William Stafford and one on Lawson Inada. For many years he was a scholar in the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College, and, with former Archives’ director Paul Merchant, he has edited four books by Stafford, including Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems, published in the Pitt Poetry Series. In 2014, he and his wife Patty received the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for contributions to the literary life of Oregon. Vincent Wixon lives in Ashland, Oregon.