Mason Gardner Sold His Place

Poem by Alfred Nicol

Mason Gardner sold the home
all his paths had started from;
unpropitious circumstance
forced him to remove at once. 

So he tidied up the place, 
settled on the fairest price, 
boxed his clothes and paid the bills, 
found an address somewhere else. 

When the back and forth was done, 
still he stayed to mow the lawn, 
cart the fallen branches off, 
nail new shingles to the roof

(as if money were no object), 
organize his books by subject
as he put them on the curb,
needing time to let absorb

his displacement from the hearth
(Time will tell what time is worth). 
Cleaned the chimney, oilded the hinges, 
set to work on making changes

oft-postponed for this or that
reasonable reason but
now at last prioritized-
planed the side door where it seized,

trimmed the wayward hedges back, 
painted rails, repointed brick, 
making certain all was well. 
Projects more ambitious still

needed his attention then;
he was not an idle man. 
Anxious that the closing date
not arrive before he got

things arranged as the should be, 
he kept at it night and day, 
sacrificing sleep to dream,
picturing what he might frame. 

Walking with a measured step, 
patiently he drew a map
outlining the gardenbeds, 
fields beyond, and then the woods, 

labing the hills and trees, 
places where the deer would graze, 
where the owl liked to sit
and the eagle's habitat.

Here the racoon washed its meal, 
here were the chestnuts in the fall,
here a crossing made of planks. 
Careful here. Watch out for skunks.

Mostly pleasures, few alarms
(prickly patches, mayfly swarms)
dotted his topography;
orante arrows showed the way

picnickers might take to find
berries blanketing the ground, 
pointed out (for when it rained)
spots protected from the wind, 

noted where the shade was best,
limbs a tired child could trust, 
fiddleheads in early spring, 
or the mossy overhang

giving on the green Great Marsh
"wild as Mary's secret wish!"
(Mason got that from a song
heard but once when he was young.)

Sketching in the polar trees
Mason paused to rest his eyes,
walked out to the patio, 
greatful for the longer view

from the Adirondack chair
towards the field's edge, where the deer, 
silent in the quiet dusk,
passed like the questions on might ask

in a swiftly out of mind
to the darker woods beyond. 
"Here's exactly where to sit
hen you are unsure of Fate."

(Mason in his chair is staring
past the woods, and past the clearing.
Eager buds that crowd the season
blur and tincture the horizon, 

haze ascending from the bay
where the ocean meets the sky, 
till mere sight decides on faith
water, air, or wash of both.)

Four AM, and still he sat,
May the first, the dreaded date, 
cool, clear water in his hand, 
waiting for the world to end. 

"Mason Gardner, look around you. 
Look bfore you, look behind you. 
Stars give way. The seedlings stir. 
Oh, there is not leaving here."

When the new owners arrived, 
in the driveway freshly paved
stood another moving van:
Mason Gardner moving in!

Was there some mistunderstanding?
Gardner's tenure should be ending. 
Had he not been such a prince, 
there'd have followed arguments.