Produced by Dennis Camire

This week’s poem is from the series editor, Dennis Camire. The poem was recently featured on Maine Public Radio.


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 koans, 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


Dennis Camire can be reached at [email protected]

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