Against the Wall
Like the beaded-pine wainscot
of his backwoods tavern, up north,
Clarence has darkened over the years,
hearing the lies of fishermen and poets;
the truths of hunters, fresh from the kill.
He’s been scarred by bar fights and carelessness, but
cleaned up and preserved by Irene,
who sees past his rough edges.
What’ll happen, he worries,
when the shot-and-a-beer woodsmen are gone,
when the kids want him to replace his old jukebox,
want him to replace the music of his life ?
Like his old paneling,
he may be replaced, too - by some modern miracle -
shining and impervious.
Until then, he watches and listens;
soaking it up, gaining color - and
telling his stories under a flickering beer sign:
a bear in a canoe, going with the flow.
~ Ralph Murre
In looking at some old poems, I came across this one, written in 2004, and which appeared in my first collection, Crude Red Boat (Cross + Roads Press). There are a few from that era that I still like.