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Better Tools
JW (10.28.65 / Iowa)

Better Tools

Poem By Joseph Wilford

He was 33 when I was born—his only son.
My Father was a carpenter.
Good with his hands.
Practical. Uncomplicated.
The world was a small town.
He walked through it with a box of tools.
A framing square and a level.
A hammer and a cat’s paw hung from his belt. Always.
Bevels, saws and measuring tape.
A chalk line to guide him.

One day the line snapped
On a jagged edge in a wisp of blue dust.
He discovered not all corners were meant to be square.
Some equations didn’t add up. Didn’t make sense.
Or were too complicated to figure.

That was the day
My Father stopped being just a carpenter.

There were these things:
He hated my Grandfather
My Mother left him
And through my own divorce
I broke his heart.

Nothing in that box was ever going to repair these splintered relationships.

He dismissed his Father.
Resented my Mother.
Adopted my ex-wife as his daughter.

I am forsaken.

Maybe someday they’ll make better tools.

(6/05)

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