Shadow Hand

by W.S. Merwin

Duporte the roofer that calm voice

those sure hands gentling weathered tiles

into new generations or

half of him rising through a roof

like some sea spirit from a wave

to turn shaped slates into fish scales

that would swim in the rain Duporte

who seemed to smooth arguments by

listening and whom they sent for

when a bone was broken or when

they had a pig to kill because

of the way he did it only

yesterday after all these years

I learned that he had suddenly

gone blind while still in his sixties

and died soon after that while I

was away and I never knew

and it seemed as though it had just

happened and it had not been long

since we stood in the road talking

about owls nesting in chimneys

in the dark in empty houses