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Broken-face Gargoyles

by Carl Sandburg, 1920

All I can give you is broken-face gargoyles.
 It is too early to sing and dance at funerals,
 Though I can whisper to you I am looking for an undertaker humming a lullaby and throwing his feet in a swift and mystic buck-and-wing, now you see it and now you don’t.

 Fish to swim a pool in your garden flashing a speckled silver,
 A basket of wine-saps filling your room with flame-dark for your eyes and the tang of valley orchards for your nose,
 Such a beautiful pail of fish, such a beautiful peck of apples, I cannot bring you now.
 It is too early and I am not footloose yet.

 I shall come in the night when I come with a hammer and saw.
 I shall come near your window, where you look out when your eyes open in the morning,
 And there I shall slam together bird-houses and bird-baths for wing-loose wrens and hummers to live in, birds with yellow wing tips to blur and buzz soft all summer,
 So I shall make little fool homes with doors, always open doors for all and each to run away when they want to.
 I shall come just like that even though now it is early and I am not yet footloose,
 Even though I am still looking for an undertaker with a raw, wind-bitten face and a dance in his feet.
 I make a date with you (put it down) for six o’clock in the evening a thousand years from now.

 All I can give you now is broken-face gargoyles.
 All I can give you now is a double gorilla head with two fish mouths and four eagle eyes hooked on a street wall, spouting water and looking two ways to the ends of the street for the new people, the young strangers, coming, coming, always coming.

 It is early.
 I shall yet be footloose.

Published in Smoke and Steel

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