October 17, 2003

Working on the ‘58 Willys Pickup

by Gary Snyder

The year this truck was made
I sat in early morning darkness
Chanting sutra in Kyoto,
And spent the days studying Chinese.
Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, French
Joys of Dharma-scholarship
And the splendid old temples
But learned nothing of trucks.

Now to bring sawdust
Rotten and rich
From a sawmill abandoned when I was just born
Lost in the young fir and cedar
At Bloody Run Creek
So that clay in the garden
Can be broken and tempered
And growing plants mulched to save water
And to also haul gravel
From the old placer diggings,
To screen it and mix in the sand with the clay
Putting pebbles aside to strew on the paths
So muddy in winter

I lie in the dusty broken bush
Under the pickup
Already thought to be old
Admiring its solidness, square lines,
Thinking a truck like this
would please Chairman Mao.

The rear end rebuilt and put back
With new spider gears,
Brake cylinders cleaned, the brake drums
New-turned and new brake shoes,
Taught how to do this
By friends who themselves spent
Youth with the Classics ?

The garden gets better, I
Laugh in the evening
To pick up Chinese
And read about farming,
I fix truck and lock eyebrows
With tough-handed men of the past.

Suggested by Mike Leihbold at Cool Tools

Posted by Vanderleun at October 17, 2003 3:27 PM
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