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by Calvin Miller

On with Friday’s grisly business!
Let the broad arm raise the sledge!
Let the hammer ring out upon the nails.
I must not flinch with the crimson flows–
He’s only a carpenter–a craftsman who claimed too much.
“I need a black nail, soldier.”
Give me your hand, carpenter. What a strange man you are!
You stretch forth your hand too eagerly–too willingly, as though
I was going to shake it, not nail it to a tree.
Steady, man. The first stroke of the hammer is easiest for me
and hardest for you.
For me the first blow meets only the resistance of soft flesh.
The hardwood beneath drives much slower.
For you the first blow is the worse.
It brings the ripping pain and the bright gore.
The wood beneath your wrist does not feel and bleed as you do.

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