the dusk-deepening, stone breaths
of this steel-hard species of limestone,
Hart’s Tongue and rare orchids
survive in the cracks and crevices
of coral reefs marooned,
ages and ages past.
Of pre-things left behind
dampened under northern light,
and broken by northern ice.
I’ve seen limestone in other places,
where the rock
blazes white beneath the sun.
Pharaohs used to plate their tombs with limestone
pyramids made white-bright with limestone
you could go blind from that limestone;
no one ever went blind from dolomite.
The Garafraxa Road loops over the old reefs,
a ragged ridge of tomb-grey skeletons,
once swarming stuff
that hated winter and hated ice
waiting, without patience, until the poles move
little by little,
when all of us are gone,
the warm oceans will return
to drown these fields
where, for a hundred years,
farmers’ children stooped a thousand, million times
to fill stone boats,
to build stone fences,
around their Garafraxa farms.
I had a friend once, killed by dolomite.
He fell, and a great squared tower stone
fell after him, and crushed him.
In those casual days
such things happened more often,
Towers built by forgotten men
to burn rock
square towers made of blocks
all loosened through age,
standing like castles.
Richard, climbing there in the evening, alone.
His father tied him to a wide plank, I heard,
and, harnessed to it, dragged his son home
desperate against death, long ago.
stonemasons took those towers down
to save other boys from falling
the fatal blocks cut up and used,
in the cemeteries,
along the Garafraxa Road.