A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I search for the red-handled
Phillips-head among the clutter
of Dad’s Air Force toolbox;
the obsolete, English-sized wrenches,
the vise-grips and channel locks looking
to grasp smooth shouldered bolts
with their practical embrace.
The lesson I take from him:
find the proper tools for the job,
identify what works
from what is missing.
The screwdrivers we always lost.
I discovered freedom
in that basement at age twelve,
in the maintenance
of bike tires and caliper brakes,
sprocket and gooseneck,
stripping Allen-keys and bruising
how to speak of failure and success.
His once-stenciled name
has faded to a smudge,
the smell of old grease
mingles with the leather decaying
on the useless handle.
Both artifact and history,
this metal rectangle could
just as easily hold his bones
beneath its lid and latch.
Copyright 2017 Fred Shaw
Fred Shaw teaches English at Point Park University and Carlow University