He made a show of spitting on his hands;
he had a trowel, a hammer, and a tape,
and eyed the ground as one who understands
the way a wall might possibly take shape.
He didn’t dig a trench or fill with stone,
he didn’t even stake a line with string;
but while he talked to someone on the phone
he scuffed a crooked boot-wide path-like thing.
He kicked them into rows then, brick by brick —
it looked like he had never heard of math —
he’d sometimes give the dirt another kick
along his crooked and unlevel path.
It might have been his girlfriend or his bank,
but on he talked as back and forth he walked:
He’d move one brick, then give his hat a yank,
or wipe his face, or gesture as he talked.
And then the mortar – one place way too wet
another dry as if it were unmixed.
He tells me not to worry — it’ll set
as well as all the others he has fixed.
Unconsoled, I watch it as it grows:
he jams in legos, rocks, and broken wood
to try to even out the ragged rows,
but it’s not even close to being good.
“Being any good?” He gave a stare,
surprised to be confronted with such gall.
“Whatever structure that I may declare
to be a wall, it thus becomes a wall!”
At least two follies stand there, his and mine,
along that ugly length of anti-art:
There’s his incompetence’s little shrine,
and how I could have ever let him start.