Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A little something for Father's Day in honor of my dad--always my spotter, my safety net, my boost up, my handhold and my inspiration.

My Father's Hammer

When I hold my father's hammer,
the one I borrowed forty years ago
with no intention of returning it,
the one with the oak handle
flecked with paint
from the bookshelves, the doll houses,
touchups in this house or that--
the handle worn to fit his grip,
the head patinaed blue and grey and rust
with a barnacle of concrete
from the driveway on the side yard
smudged beneath the claw--
When I hold it like he held it
assembling bikes, wrestling appliances,
building fences and retaining walls,
I feel what moves inside it--
the drive, the curses,
                    the strength, the mastery,
and think on his skin calloused and made hard
against its varnish worn smooth as flesh.

When I use my father's hammer like he used it,
like every hammer is and has ever been used,
and feel in its sweetly balanced weight
the true currency of the universe
which is usefulness,
and feel the ring of that lovely strike--
the one true and square
without jerk or bounce or wobble or bind--
the true strike that telegraphs up the arm
and rings in the marrow
like a monk's temple bell.
That pure note rivets me
to every user of a hammer--
to makers of anonymous devotions,
to makers of other men's glories,
to makers of cathedral and cabin
cradle, carousel, coffin and cross.

When I hold my father's hammer
I know that maker part of Noah,
of Michelangelo
of Jesus the Carpenter,
                    and of my dad.

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