he was starting out, still green,
used to make a signature mistake
that his hidden talent could be seen,
the flag above the White House roof.
made him feel ingenious and aloof
signify his forgeries as fake.
always liked his jokes, but they are private.
when he is pressed about his trade,
answers with a shrug, "I draw a
"I trust in God." Nobody ever
the den, above two ebony giraffes,
the first dollar that he ever made.
making money is an enterprise
tedious, grave concerns. To reproduce
symboled reproductions, his hands and eyes
settle on what others merely see,
couples, columns and the Model T,
all the framework, intricate, abstruse,
difficult to copy by design,
fine acanthuses and cycloid nets.
must account for every tiny line
duplicate the sad and distant stare
the breaking waves of Jackson's hair,
he would tender these to pay his debts.
has invested his adult career
being perfect when he goes to press,
artistry both humble and severe.
at the basement desk, long hours pass
a burin and magnifying glass.
one suspects his notable success.
profits by his anonymity,
deep regret competes with honest pride:
labor toward complete obscurity
treasure a craft that will efface his will,
his name unknown and all his skill
long after he has died.
The Silent Partner, Story Line Press,
1994. Reprinted by permission of the author
and Story Line
Press, Ashland, Oregon.