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  • There’s a puzzle on the table
    Another on the floor
    Ten thousand pieces
    Neat enough in the box
    An expanding jumble of a chaos when loosed

    sorted once:
    rigging, ships, Algiers, sea, sky
    browns, all the shades of smoke and fire.

    sorted again,
    a faded flag
    furled sails
    the Adrimal's quarters astern

    and again,
    the faces of men aboard a long boat
    a howitzer rigged in her bow
    the white jets of shells around them
    an officer, a boy, urging them on

    at first, and for a time, they’re all the same
    only slowly, fine details,
    brushstroke, shading, lines, light and shadow,

    consider the painter
    piece by piece assembling a scene from his father’s war
    hours, days, months
    sketching in the naval yard
    reading logs
    over a pint or bowl
    gathering stories oft retold
    round the fire, at the club, in the pub
    until, out of all the perspectives,
    (there are after all
    Ten- thousand pieces
    each piece unique
    custom crafted
    for a perfect , snap-click, fit)
    history emerges
    fit for framing

    viewed from a safe and well-ordered distance
    the ten thousand brush strokes merge
    The ten thousand interlocking pieces become a single image
    a story told
    chaos, bound and bordered
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