Though other boys would follow flocks and herds,
some forage food along the muddy shore,
I knew the narrow doorways into dark,
could weigh dull stones, judge mysteries of ore.
Others were learning how to ride, to fight,
while I was studying to work with fire,
to conjure out of earth those glowing threads,
watching burnt fingers beat out plate, draw wire.
The war-band’s weapons occupy those skills
my master has to temper and anneal
the living blade, yet years in smoke have dulled
his eye for finest gold, though not for steel.
My eye is bright, my small hands deft, to form
the interlace, set gems, shape filigree,
adorn a pommel on the warrior’s hilt,
the clasps that pin his wife’s fine drapery.
They come to see us work; the ladies speak
of my quick craft, tease me to make reply.
Lords treat the master with a gruff respect.
I read that darkened face, as he limps by.