Dutch Masters

They apprenticed once, to learn the tricks of their trade
from men who’s wisdom didn’t show, of whom they were afraid.
Their work was nothing special, leaning heavily upon routine.
They, too, swept the floors and kept the workshop clean.

The mindless hours melted, layering same upon more same,
and the point they gained their mastery came subtly, without a name.
And then you came apprenticed to this unlikely trade,
and you, like them before you, strove to make the grade.

And you, like them, were baffled to learn that what you’d done—
which seemed no more than trivial work—proved adequate to run.
Those who hold the secret, dare not share it straight—
that years of mindless innocence define the master’s fate.

And so another innocent arrives indentured here,
and you, unlikely as it seems, will teach what no one hears.
You’ll speak in muttered orders to focus all they do,
attending to daily details ‘till their mastery comes through.

12/02/07
Epe, The Netherlands


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