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October 2013, vol 9, no 3

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Lee Allen Hill

Pop's Workbench

Basement dank and boyhood asthma. Auld acquaintances best forgot reunite halfway down uncertain cellar stairs. Clay-ey. Clammy.

Joisted cob webs, frail so far, foster grander intentions.

Sniff of ancient oil. Linger of sweat. And … something newer … the sharp note of insidious rust.

The toolman's Dracula, boy, sucks the sap outta everything.

Remnant of a resiny flavor … pine shavings, and the brassy tongue-bite of hardened steel.

The pull-chain bare bulb bounces, swings. Animates long shadows in a still-life recently rendered lifeless. Pegboard palette, tarred with insults of dust. Gape-jawed vises frozen, un-sated. Flat- and Phillips-heads all lined up. Left to loiter.

Lefty loosey, righty tighty, son.

A wrench tightens somewhere untouchable. A bolt from beyond. Silent saw-teeth grin.

Measure twice, cut once, boy.

The handyman's holy mantra, hammered home, hammered home. Chisels, rasps, and planes gone dull, unfocused … doze. Hand tools without hands to hold.

Always lend your effort, son, but never lend your tools.

The 60-watt sways.

And don't forget to turn out the light.

Yes, Dad.

on which legacies rest
skinned knuckles