She Became Pickaxe and Shovel

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something—a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things—which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” ~ The History Boys, by Alan Bennett

.
“Don’t pity flesh or bone
that doesn’t have to breathe
pretty poisons,” she whispers.
“Wail for people too deaf
(self-damned or senseless)
to listen to their dead.”

“People do listen,”
I say, “they wear their dead’s tongues
on signs, on t-shirts.”

“Showing without doing
isn’t becoming,” she tells me.
“Read the tombstone.”

I open my mouth to read aloud,
but her finger is on my lips.

“Feel the words,” she says,
taking my hand, guiding it
over the epitaph.
Through feel, I listen:

When conflict threatened
to take root in her soil,
she became
pickaxe and shovel.

“Become,” I say.

.
the wee notes…
–  Linked to Friday Fictioneers. Visit Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog, to enjoy interesting tales. Then follow this LINK, to read what others have read (and felt) on the tombstone.
– Also, linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. Karin asked us to write poetry inspired by “Outsider Art”. Since I am my favorite outsider artist (I’m also very modest *cough*), I chose to pair Friday Fictioneers tombstones with one of my blackouts.

photo by Liz Young

65 thoughts on “She Became Pickaxe and Shovel

  1. And she said, “Better get diggin’.”
    I like this, Magaly.
    Being ‘pickaxe and shovel’ is a new saying to me. I read it as being facilitator.
    ..

  2. This is deliciously dark and haunting, Magaly ❤️ especially like; “Don’t pity flesh or bone that doesn’t have to breathe pretty poisons.” Beautifully executed!

  3. Dear Magaly,

    Would that we all could become our own pick axe and shovel. Well written.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  4. Oh I love this… I just knew that you would love the graveyard picture, the epitaph is perfect and so is the way you can only read it if you trace it with your fingers.

  5. ‘showing without doing isn’t becoming’ is a superb line. The whole poem has a sense of real depth and truth in it’s dialogue.

  6. There’s something surreal about this one. As there is about all your writing that I’ve seen. I feel as if I’m on the verge of understanding it then it veers off into the unknown again. Food for thought.

  7. I’m always amazed by how we can relate with the ideas and words of long-dead people.

    MOST of the stuff written down by people of the past is lost to us. And beyond that, most everything we’ve thought and done never got written down.

    Connecting with something that defied the odds to actually make it to me – and then to connect with us – is strange and wonderful indeed.

  8. Of course we like to remember our dead by speaking their names and maybe repeating some of their stories. But I like to think that they (the ones who love us anyway because I will not always take love as a given even with blood) really smile when they see actions inspired by who they were and what they believed in. If they were adaptable enough to become pick axe or shovel as the needs demanded, it must please them to know their descendants are similarly adaptable. I rather love it for Samhain.

  9. Alan Bennett! She quotes Alan Bennett! As if that wasn’t rapturous enough (and amusing, because I can’t imagine anyone less like AB than you) – ah, such an amazing, brilliant, alarming, and ultimately optimistic poem!

  10. Being told to feel the words and being guided to run her fingers over them brought to mind the people that you see at the Vietnam monument or the 9/11 monument touching the words, the names, not just standing back and looking. It is as if they know that they must actually touch the words to absorb the full meaning of them. You are writing such thought provoking things, Magaly!

  11. This may sound silly, but when I read the line about tongues on T-shirts I immediate thought of the Rolling Stones tongue & lips logo.

    I loved the poem, Magaly. I knew you’d do something special with the scene.

  12. Always moved by your words BUT you totally distracted me with that pic of a gravestone….now need to go “grave hopping” again 😉 *leaving my shove at home obviously* XXX

  13. I have read your words like 3 times now! You always get me feeling things in different ways! I love this part….
    “Feel the words,” she says,
    taking my hand, guiding it
    over the epitaph.
    Through feel, I listen:
    Perfect!! Big Hugs 🙂

  14. it’s good to see writing that doesnt seperate the cognitive from the visceral. Life is not just how we decipher its Mystery but how comfortable we become resting within its unknowns. Life (and death) are only a challenge when we chose to be conflicting… it’s all complementary.

    – brothadirt

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