for Herbert Clancey

Like the signature in maplewood
              of sun-splashed rain,
this man’s bright pattern must remain
beside the workbench where he stood
              smoothing the grain.

Deprived of work, he would not rest
              for fidgeting;
he lived to build a living thing
that, by impassioned hands caressed,
              might learn to sing.

This shop is where his spirit is.
              Twelve months a year,
the world arranged to meet him here,
arriving in trussed packages
              from far and near.

Rosewood came from India,
              mahogany
came from the Caribbean sea,
from western Africa
              came ebony.

Tonewoods from earth’s four corners sent
              he stacked here, stored
beneath an image of Our Lord,
who made of him the instrument
              of their accord.

Articles by Alfred Nicol

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