In The Marble Quarry

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Beginning to dangle beneath
The wind that blows from the undermined wood,
  I feel the great pulley grind,

  The thread I cling to lengthen
And let me soaring and spinning down into marble,
  Hooked and weightlessly happy

  Where the squared sun shines
Back equally from all four sides, out of stone
  And years of dazzling labor,

  To land at last among men
Who cut with power saws a Parian whiteness
  And, chewing slow tobacco,

  Their eyebrows like frost,
Shunt house-sized blocks and lash them to cables
  And send them heavenward

  Into small-town banks,
Into the columns and statues of government buildings,
  But mostly graves.

  I mount my monument and rise
Slowly and spinningly from the white-gloved men
  Toward the hewn sky

  Out of the basement of light,
Sadly, lifted through time’s blinding layers
  On perhaps my tombstone

  In which the original shape
Michelangelo believed was in every rock upon earth
  Is heavily stirring,

  Surprised to be an angel,
To be waked in North Georgia by the ponderous play
  Of men with ten-ton blocks

  But no more surprised than I
To feel sadness fall off as though I myself
  Were rising from stone

  Held by a thread in midair,
Badly cut, local-looking, and totally uninspired,
  Not a masterwork

  Or even worth seeing at all
But the spirit of this place just the same,
  Felt here as joy.

© James Dickey