THE HALF-ANCHOR, THE COLUMN
By Benjamin Harnett
By Ali Hoff
Published Issue 113, May 2023
What they signify, no one seems to know.
In the wreckage that is history
in the broken-up, buried rooms,
in this imperialist legacy, the hardened
clay seals are left while the documents
they closed rotted, dried, and flaked away.
There is no money in it, no fame,
no certainty possible either, only
a guess educated by remnants,
only getting deeper, farther-scattered,
more scarce. Only the present speaks,
and by the time its voice has reached
our ears, it’s gone. Once the half-anchor
impressed from brass ring into the formless
dough of earth meant rule, commerce,
meant a name, or anniversary,
or special kind of fee, or it meant
that only half of our life holds us back,
and the other half is free.
Once the column stood somewhere,
and its standing, rendered,
stood for the relation of thou to thee.
Our little pieces are in the desert,
but a river passes,
and it leads to the sea.
Benjamin Harnett is a poet, fiction writer, historian and digital engineer. His poetry has appeared recently in Poet Lore, Saranac Review, ENTROPY and the Evansville Review. He is the author of the novel THE HAPPY VALLEY and the short story collection GIGANTIC. He lives in Cherry Valley, NY with his wife Toni and their collection of eccentric pets. He works for The New York Times. Learn more on his site.
This is Benjamin’s debut with Birdy. Keep your eyes peeled for more work by this future creative. Check out Ali’s last Birdy install, Just Browsing, or head to our Explore section to see more of his work.