The limestone mason who lives
in sculpted-bare northwest Kansas
has a side job emptying dumpsters.
He collected lovely books for his children
as nearby libraries dumped piles
and piles of volumes, untouched
on shelves for twelve months. We gasped!
I remembered scanning shelves here
years ago only to find a previously
unstamped volume by the brother
of Isaac Asimov Singer. Why would
anyone check it out? I, therefore,
found a treasure. Now the shelves
boast all bright new and popular books.
Can I find the words I mark electronically
without the cluster of stars I draw
in margins to show what is important?
Can I discover a buried treasure
finger-flicking entries on a screen?
Can I flip pages for perusal
of bright maps on unexpected pages?
Remorse, confession receive grace
the old-fashioned way, and perhaps
saved forests will bless us
for some new-fangled forgiveness.
I balance out my own sins, rationalize
until I become lily-pure. Can I find absolution,
indulgence with this salvation of trees?
Forgiveness demands repentance
for our wrongdoing, and who can say
if any good has come out of
our swift tradings of old sins for new.
Carol Hamilton is a former teacher in Connecticut, Indiana, and Oklahoma. She taught in the English Department at Rose State College and on the graduate faculty of the writing program at the University of Central Oklahoma. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2007. She has won a Southwest Book Award, an Oklahoma Book Award, Cherubim Award, Pegasus Award, Chiron Review Chapbook Award, David Ray Poetry Prize, the Byline Literary Awards for both short story and poetry, and the Warren Keith Poetry Prize. She has published seventeen books of poetry, legends, and children’s novels. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize seven times.