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African Mahogany
By Louise Moises

Mahogany, African Mahogany: durable hard wood,

   interlocking grains, deep, dark brown

of Africa, lathe-turned, polished to perfection, harmony

   of line, balance of geometry,

solid cubes and holed-octahedrons positioned on point,

like dancers on toes.


Mahogany, African Mahogany: hand-picked, precious

   wood of the motherland,

sawed into seven pieces, penciled outlines of futures,

   much to scrape away, hours of labor,

meditation with tools, sawdust in piles. Reminder of my

   father, he too worked in wood.


Mahogany, African Mahogany: whispered tales of

   ancestors, you balanced

between worlds. Rough wood carved to precise measured

   forms, calibrated,

stacked, aligned, linked with arcs, hallowed spaces,

   surfaces sanded to smooth sheen.


Mahogany, African Mahogany: how many pieces cracked

   under pressure, splintered,

broke apart, before you achieved perfection? You stood,

   back bent, hands cramped,

chiseled and turned, chiseled and turned, hum of lathe,

   fragments flying, perfume of wood.

​Mahogany, African Mahogany: small white label:

   do not touch. I yearn to rub fingers

over smooth surfaces, feel curvature of emptiness,

   embrace sharp corners,

gaze through holes to see your face, thump floor, dance

   around your balanced world.

Mahogany, African Mahogany. In your meticulous

   creation, even connecting screws

line up like soldiers. In your world of order and

   symmetry, harmony of forms,

I know, I could never please you. I know, I could never

   please you.

About Louise Moises

Louise Moises' work has been published by High Shelf Press, Write Launch, Unlimited Literature, and others. Her poems and short stories have received awards from the literary divisions of the San Mateo, Marin, and Alameda County Fairs, as well as by Bay Area Poets Coalition (BAPC), Ina Coolbrith Circle, and Artist Embassy International.

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