Tuesday Poem

What Makes a Poem

The barley
and the manner of its malting
its standing up to the wind
its sprouting and drying
its gradual ripening

The water
and the manner of its flowing
traces of peat and mineral
its floral and honey notes

The mash tun
and the manner of the yeasting
where malt and water mix
starch turning to sugar
the draining of the wort

The still
and the manner of its tending
its shape—column or pot—
the ancient skill of the coppersmith

The cask
and the manner of its keeping
the flavors of the wood
the subtle art of the cooper
its tempering of sublimities

and the manner of its passing
of its passing

The maltmaster
and the manner of his knowing
the manner of his loving
the grain, the water, the copper, the wood,
and the slow ferment of years.

David Solway