WILLIAM OGDEN HAYNES
Carving: The act of using tools to shape something from a material by scraping away portions of that material; to decorate or form something by cutting or chipping.
We do it all the time.
We create the new by
chipping away at the old.
Museums abound with carvings
of bone, gourd, ivory, stone and wood.
But visitors see only what is left
of the original material.
The rest is thrown away or swept
from the workroom floor.
A stick, whittled by an old man
becomes a pipe while slivers and curls
of bark fall to the ground.
Pieces of ivory are transformed into a necklace
with shards and dust left on the workbench.
Life is prolonged as a surgeon
excises cancerous cells from the
margins of healthy tissue.
Children create faces at Halloween
by carving pumpkins, removing
the insides and slicing out pieces
to make holes for the eyes, nose and smile.
But some carvings may not last.
Carcinoma can recur and pumpkins
become the interest of ants.
The block of ice at a wedding
so carefully sculptured as a swan
begins to melt as soon as it is complete.
Relationships, works in progress,
change after years of chipping away.
And as any carver will attest, once you
go too far, it is not so easy to add,
you can only subtract.