The rock looks bleak and hard

too adamant to strike
to make a mark,
their weight real more
than their selves,
fingers lightly press my back,
whispers of years assail my ears,
look round
nothing there
staring at this bare wall
I know they have not gone,
their insistent sense of history
has pushed me to the
head of the queue
implements passed on,
to be discarded
when their turn is done,
the face before, recedes,
hewn by each generation,
old torches held
by new hands
as the mark is planned and cut
into implacable rock.

I look down
my pick there sound, sharp, gleams
undamaged at my feet.  I stoop
take the haft's weight in hand,
tool fit for purpose
shaped to my palm's size
awaited the date, the bead
of life in its fashioning,
one pure drop of essence
endowed it for my use
to add my voice to theirs
join the ranks of encouragers
who whisper in the ear of the
next in line
to take his solemn place
at the rockface
to make in turn his mark
to add to the wearing of the wall
receding, worn, until
it lay uncovered
waiting for my hand.

Air sings as I swing
test its width, its heart
step back to strike
to make in turn my mark
to add to the wearing
of the wall.
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