measured for a pine gown
I know a guy who works wood
with an old world eye, whose shop brims
with devices built to demand obedience.
He lives as he was taught, his family
within his tightening vise like planks
laid out on his bench, spalted and burled
by the fungus of certainty. I’ve seen
the trace of the jig and the carbide teeth
beside the rack of delicate calipers.
Here hidden splines hug his kin rigid
to timeworn rigmarole. In this land
of infliction, clamp and steam, the sound
of the mallet tapping stave to stave
is a steady cadence. Oblivious to the path
embracing the splintered and wane. Unable
to honor the tangle of knot, the warp
too wild or the split beyond the grasp
of the grain. Behind the veneer, peeking
from between the balustrades of an ornate
cage is a child with a willowed heart and
a woman being measured for a pine gown.
Published in Pittsburgh Poetry Review