Through the unhinged door, the cycloptic eye
of his old Ford squints through its lid of rust,
pries open the moth-chewed dark, and fixes us
with its gaze. For a moment, I am paralyzed:
he had knelt to show me how to work a rasp,
explained that backward strokes will ruin the edge.
But the past isn’t what I’ve come here to salvage,
though it feels that way. Above me, paper wasps
have hung their gray lantern. From a metal cage,
a bulb sloughs its light. On his workbench,
ghosts haunt the pegged board, every file and wrench,
the hand saws, teeth brittle and softened with age.
He’d outlined them all with a black Magic Marker,
so he’d remember the proper place for each.
So much reminds, remains of him. I touch
the un-sunned wood inside the lines, far darker.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 34 Number 9, on page 32
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