William M. Ramsey
My father is ironing wood.
In his basement workshop it is Spring 1972, and here we cannot hear the screams of Tet and Khe San, or taunts hurled at protestors marching in Boston. In silent labor, our peace and love assume form, slowly, in the veneer table he crafts step by meticulous step. Firmly I press a short length of 2x4 onto the large, heated walnut sheet, beneath which strips of waxy glue melt over white pine of the recessed table top. On the floor, in sawdust, lie large wooden vises that will clamp veneer to table while the glue sets.
I do not foresee that in twenty years I will inherit it. Indeed one day I will set books and magazines on it, seeing the wave of his hair in its sinuous grain, and write poems of pain and wonder on it. On my father's glistening hair, my poems will scrawl out their own grain and finish.
He works deliberately. Damping, sanding, staining, oiling, buffing. Loving the wood, at times caressing it so that it will sing out polished lines once sealed darkly in its weathered, annual stresses. We labor late, very late, into earth's great, chaotic night. He wants to get it right. The way it is in the grain of the pith, in its rains and droughts.
in walnut grain
dim sounds of war in spring-