My Father’s Tools (9-12-16, by Mark Nielsen)
I need a phillips.
I keep one in Dad’s old toolbox
in my car trunk.
I go get it,
then still hold it briefly in my hands
after I’ve used it.
These objects define him, in a way–
and yet could not possibly do so entirely.
They merely stand in for him now,
which is all they ever did.
They say he was here.
He fixed things. He made things.
He changed things.
That light on the porch at our house?
He put that there–
using this pair of “Kleins” to cut the wire,
that Craftsman screwdriver to attach the wires,
that keyhole saw to cut a circle in the wallboard.
We don’t live there anymore,
but he left something behind there,
forever, …or till they tear it down.
I could buy a newer, sharper saw,
as some have suggested.
But why would I?
These tools have the spirit of old things
–and of eternity—
infused into them.
A wood-handled screwdriver?
Wood? Who does this anymore?!
It still has my father’s sweat and skin oil
embedded somewhere deep in the woodgrain,
just like I have something of him
somewhere deep within me,
especially at times like this.