Evening Poem, October 5, 2014

The Holiness of Tools

The shop-room is silent and still smells of sawn wood

Dust motes drift in the light beaming through the little window.

The plywood table, itself built out of scraps and leftovers from the construction of the house,

Is mounded with the residue from projects completed in a hurry,

Urgent fix-it jobs done at night and on Saturdays.

Here, hold this just like that and let’s see if I can get reach the problem that way.

Here are hardware-store bags, piled one upon another, containing a few screws that turned out to be unnecessary, a can of spray paint, a roll of electric tape, receipts that are eight years old.

I had once resolved to keep this place straight and orderly.


In my father’s shop tools were hung in their places

and nails and screws arranged by length and weight in drawers and jars.

Spools of different grades of wire were above, on a long axle of copper tubing.

It was a place of Genesis, of creation and preservation of wealth and home.

The order there and the knowledge of it were how we kept warm and dry, how the water kept flowing, how the car made it through another winter.


Under the years of sediment I see an old screwdriver, bearing paint scabs the colors of the living room in my boyhood home.

And there is Father’s hammer, its nose bent and battered from forty years of battles with nails of every kind.

These artifacts affect me more than speech or even music.

They still know the strength of his arms and hands

And carry the aura of his touch, his philosophy, even his love.

There is no replacing them.

There is no new thing, no digital equivalent that will ever do what they have done.

Or, rather, what was done with them.

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