Encounter with Roofer

Jun 8, 2018

Today’s poem is “Encounter with Roofer” by Dennis Camire. Dennis teaches writing at Central Maine Community College and at the University of Maine at Augusta. Dennis also edits the poetry series “In Verse: Maine Places and People” for The Sun journal. Born and raised in Biddeford, he currently lives in an A-frame in West Paris Maine.

He writes, “This poem was inspired by a time in my life when I was exploring Buddhism and integrating some of its practices into my own esoteric, non-denominational Christian mystic-based practices. During this period, too, my landlady was having my cottage roof re-shingled so my primary spiritual practice of writing was interrupted for a number of days.”

Encounter with Roofer
by Dennis Camire

When he drops his hammer for a noon sandwich
He’s like a Buddha atop a grand stupa
As bare feet set over the eaves while he reads
Thich Nhat Hahn’s “Peace is Every Step.”

And Thinking his earlier noise bad karma
For making my morning writing an uphill rhyme
I sherpa into the sacred space of his lunch break
And discover he’s read the whole of Kornfield

And, like me, practices that walking meditation
Where he imagines the soles of his feet
Massaging the vertebrae of mother earth’s
Tectonic plates.  Now, sharing cool aid

And khoans, we’re like Tu Fu and Li Po high
Atop some remote mountain peak shading
A river below eroding time and stone.
Later that afternoon, in the silence

Which announces the end of his work day,
I’ll climb a second time with the gift of a Hahn line
Decreeing “rainwater is the master bodhisattva.”
He’ll reply “those who say they know, don’t know;

Those who say they don’t know, know.”
And though we won’t exchange emails
To meet for a tea ceremony
Or to play our Tibetan bowls

As I help him throw the remaining shingles
Into the backed up truck below
Then gladly tie down the sliding ladder,
I know the leak of a future sadness has been sealed

Poem copyright © 2017 Dennis Camire. Reprinted from Combed by Crows, Deerbrook Editions, 2017, by permission of Dennis Camire.