“Heirloom” — New Poem in Print

Click to access 3elements-review-winter-journal-issue-21-2019.pdf

pg 92



Past the sweat and stinging back,

past daylight and all good sense,

I lift the patina of fifty years, dirt

and stain creviced into fine grooves

with a piece of sandpaper folded

so thin its grain disintegrates,

this pine bed in need of a junkyard

or repair.  I like to think if I work

hard enough, stay on task,

the hatch marks of finished chores

will let me sleep secure in the order

of things, the outward sign of inward

grace, the gristle of my better self.  


This morning, fingers raw, I sit

at the kitchen table, toast and coffee

staring accusingly:  unmopped floor,

dirty dishes, unsightly mess of dust

and tools in the garage – no hatch

marks.  Nothing done.  Despite

my best efforts, I came up short.  

Maybe if I’d slathered filler in routed

spindles, slapped paint over bolts

holding the bed together, I’d not

be held captive by such tedium.  


I’d made my choice, looked at plastic

laminates boasting easy assembly,

measured the value of solid wood,

its craft a long time in the learning,

and promised to honor handwork

that lasts a lifetime. This heirloom

that will bear my body, its spindles

the last thing I see at night, first

in the morning light will say more

about me than all the hatch marks

on all the lists I make.  I take a drink

of cooling coffee, ignore the dishes

languishing in the sink, and go to work.  



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