Marisol Baca – Ode to a Rusty Square Nail

Marisol Baca featured image

Marisol Baca

Ode to a Rusty Square Nail


The people living here before left many things
objects that have become junk
large collections of rusted sinks,
skeletons of farm equipment, car engine parts
until they became hills hidden in a thin layer of dirt
and Bermuda grass
so many hills that the land was not flat
no one knowing where the earth started and where ruin was
the people also left
many square rusted nails

My husband finds them around the property
to me they are artifacts in dim dreams
they are square hands finishing the shed
square mouths talking
the square of the edge of wood that fixed itself to another
until there was a house
or maybe the nail was before the house
because this house was once a tinier version of itself
the house grew and the mice grew and the horses lived in the pasture
and birthed colts

I wonder how long this nail will last
My husband brought it in from the yard
how long before it is chewed and digested by the earth’s insatiable movement
I wonder when it will melt into the history of this land
becoming a rust stain
on a piece of stone

A square nail is practical
slightly primitive and strangely heavy in my hand
wedging together a weight far greater than itself

it is found in the ground on its sides
it is charged with the sun and the rain
it is alone in its metallurgy
gifted from people whose faces are grim and broad and straight
they left it without knowing its true value
they left it to become the earth before it could do that itself
it is still whole and separate like a hill off the ground

a wooden box
a copper pipe
a cement flower
the sealing of a coffin
earth to earth
metal, dense, impressed
the patina coming off on my hand
microscopic cracks and crags
like little X scratches along the flattened surface
the want is to stand it on its point and hit it
drive it in
seal the casket
splinter one side to another


Marisol Baca’s artist statement:

Over the past 15 days, I have been writing a poem a day. This concentrated workload allowed me to sit face-to-face with poems that I have been wanting to write for a long time— stories that I have wanted to investigate for a long time. It was a difficult thing to do, but the right time to do it. These poems are about exploring the work of a favorite artist of mine and finding out more about my family history. The first eight poems are interrelated and are about the surrealist painter, Remedios Varo. Her paintings evoke wonder and curiosity in me, and I love them. The second set of poems deal with stories about my great grandmother and her sisters. There are some stories in these poems that I have been thinking about for a long time, maybe even years, and have not been able to write until now. Last week I had a dream about my great grandmother standing at the entrance of a doorway telling me to go ahead and get it done. So I did.

Published by jeffersonbeavers

Jefferson Beavers is a multimedia storyteller based in Fresno, Calif. He works at Fresno State and enjoys volunteering in the community.

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