Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Rhythm of Workers in the House”

Georganne Harmon grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where she and her husband now make their home. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Pearl, Poem, Appalachian Voices, New Millennium Writings, Maypop, Slant, and others, and she has been the recipient of six awards by the Tennessee Writers Alliance and Tennessee Mountain Writers. A longtime teacher, Harmon conducts writing workshops for young people and adults. Italy, a second homeland to which she returns often, forms a part of her landscape. We Will Have Ghosts is her first book.

Rhythm of Workers in the House

They ring the door at seven, finding me
with my shiny face just cleaned from sleep.
Gone from twelve to one and then at three.
They live within these measures every day.

One wears wrenches weighing down his limbs;
pony-tailed and neat, I trust the weight of him,
to join and plumb our circulation’s rounds.

Another, an earnest boy just out of school,
his beard a scraggled art and incomplete.
He parses out the grammar of his trade
with a precision vision-born a class
that taught the poems of Keats would not have told.
Not because an English teacher thought
him dull, but that he wouldn’t fondle word
on word the way she did, didn’t find he had
a rhythmic bent. Instead he feels the grain
of wood on wood and works his poem
dovetailed, plane, and finely measured fit.
Everyone should be a different god
of some created world. Plumb line, wall mud,
two wires connected right to guide our brief
meanderings across the night. A poem.

The dog trembles with the noise of creation
as though her universe were tumbling in
like Chicken Little’s sky; these strangers’ hands
invade the roof and skitter under floors.
But this uprooting of her safe routine,
this setting-right–is heavy-footed, sure
in its spondaic meter, tooled, conceived.
Its rhythm breaks a rhythm like a poem’s
deft surprise. Beauty is the centered
heart of work, the verse, the walls, the ruled,
the hammered strains that will endure.