William Greenway

by William Greenway

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

      —“Digging,” Seamus Heaney

Back when I had a hallway, an old umbrella stand
held the walking sticks I brought home, all cut
and carved from the hawthorn hedges
or bramble bushes of Wales,
and like another hedge,
they bristled in the still hallway air
till time for a stroll.

Sharp eyes had seen the future
of the limbs as if already cut
in the mind, trimmed and burnished,
every flaw, the gnarls and furls,
shaken and shaped by Atlantic winds
into weird shapes, whose tangles, twined
and twisted, wove fences too thick
for the sheep to breach, too high to leap.
In spring the fringe of every field
bloomed thick and white,
like the ermine edges of royal capes.

I know you see the metaphor coming
already, how some hedge-hunter saw growing
what seemed deformed, but a growth that needed
only pruning and the polishing of its flaws
into the root and branch of a sensitive plant,
to become like no other, ever,
then or since, like my favorite, cut
from the path to my grandfather’s village.
As if he knew I’d own it one day,
it’s not some scrawny scribble, but thick
as a shillelagh, with a knurl
like a fist.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 3.

William GreenwayWilliam Greenway is the author of over ten collections of poetry, including The Accidental Garden (WordTech Communications, 2014); Everywhere at Once (University of Akron Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award; and Ascending Order (University of Akron Press, 2003), winner of the 2004 Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award. His honors include the Helen and Laura Krout Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors’ Prize from the Missouri Review, and a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, among others. He has taught at Youngstown State University since 1986.

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