The Raker's Progress Joel Savishinsky The last leaves on the maple have seen the future and are determined it won’t happen to them: the gray faces of this already dis-spirited century, our own meager hopes, the ever-ready compromises with integrity. They have witnessed my grandchildren playing among the dead, kicking up bones into dusty clouds. The leaves’ translucent fingers dangle from limbs, signaling to let the wintry world have its way. We will wait, they sign, and watch until spring forces us out by its touch on our stubborn stems. This is still our tree, our tree of life, a silent citadel that can guard frail soldiers and doomed relics left behind by fortune, covering the retreat of sisters and brothers who’ve sought refuge in the slow, subtle warmth of earth’s decay.
Antideconstructionist Joel Savishinsky I loved rivers until I took geology where I learned what they did to their beds. Our bodies were marvels until the day their tendons grew in my garden. Now I live among the destroyers of language, the orderlies of bed and bowel who hunt the texts within the text. Lately, from my elders, who put things together well in the course of their decay, I have sensed that knowledge need not stand in the way of knowing. So I will work to recover my river cultivate a plot and the muscular pain it grows, and put down roots in books without eating the glue that binds their pages.
The Carpenter Bee Joel Savishinsky Beneath the porch railing the carpenter bee makes his hour-glass dune, a perfect heap of love’s labor, sawdust for sand. Deeper, in the foundation’s cave, the boxes wait, blocks of a misplaced pyramid: accounts and books, pots and towels, the children’s unstudied art, the swept-up tokens of travel, episodes of civil war, once interrupted by spasms of song, sex, or exhaustion— a house sometimes divided by the issue of keeping up a house. Now there is no place left to go but away, leaving only the bee, who does not notice his work, his admirable diligence, and yet must destroy to sanctify and save this home. From afar, those who pack and those who drill are both noble in how they erase to create. If I could, I would bless all who have lived or died trying to live here.
Joel Savishinsky is a retired professor of anthropology and gerontology. He has studied human adaptations in the Canadian Arctic, Turkey, the Caribbean, the US, England and India. His books include The Trail of the Hare: Life and Stress in an Arctic Community, The Ends of Time: Life and Work in A Nursing Home, and Breaking The Watch: The Meanings of Retirement in America; the latter two each won the Gerontological Society of America’s annual book award. The places his poetry, fiction and essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, include Atlanta Review, Beyond Words, Cirque, Metafore, The New York Times, PageBoy, Poetry Quarterly, SLANT, Toho Journal, and Windfall. He lives in Seattle, helping to raise five grandchildren and the climate of opinion about social justice.
“Antideconstructionist” was originally published in Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly.
“The Carpenter Bee” was originally published in California Quarterly.