Glint of white quartz on the pale cream sand,
Or sparkle of worked stone, red, black or green;
The eye, unwillingly trapped, impels the hand
To weigh these fragments of what once had been.
Here then there sat the knapper of the flint,
With fire and careful tap he shaped the head;
From this dark pit he drew stone without stint,
Stones for his working. But he has been dead
A long time. The nickel case of the twenty-two
Corrodes in the salt air. The Indian on relief,
Or plumbing, is hardly the same Indian who
Discarded his failures without petulance or grief.
Perhaps the working of quartz was waste of time;
But such waste and inefficiency could contrive
Lastingness—the paper shell-case molders into grime.
These sharp and many coloured chips survive
While rain and storms erode and centuries elide.
Efficiency seems trivial and our artifacts must pass
As impermanent symbols that cannot lie beside
The arrowhead in the clump of blue-eyed grass.