Magazine May 3, 2010, Issue

The Truth of Materials

Modern City Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. (Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

“ . . . Brancusi taught me the truth of materials.” 
– Isamu Noguchi

In my father’s house is a propeller,
Not a work of art, or nature, not steel
Or driftwood, but a little of each by way
Of City Hall, one blade, one of four once,
Curved like a wing, fastened along the edges
By brass studs, sitting in a corner through
Generations of judges in City Hall,
Half a corridor block from my father’s
Office, until he retired as Chief Crier
Of Quarter Sessions Court, bringing home his
Gold badge, which I can’t find, his Brancusi,
Which I’ve never lost sight of, yet no plane’s
History of military service
Or flying banners over

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