July 19, 2006

The Awning

A being capable of anything:

long drives without bathroom breaks,

driving around me on the basketball court,

asking for the Phillips head, flathead, crescent wrench, socket set

as I stumbled through the basic fixes,

unable to summon the patience

to read directions, pay attention,

to think before I acted.

Now, in a year when I actually worked on my car and made it better not worse,

to think that I would be the missing variable

in the equation of his retirement awning.

The obligatory grunt of muscle

as we lifted the beams.

I was the one who climbed up on the ladder,

who held the heavy, yet not unbearable weight above my head

and lifted up and over and down the post,

the crossbeam resting on both sides in position for the washer, bolt, washer, nut.

I was the able body, the patient mind, the driving force.

In the afternoon, I knew he was tired,

wanted to call it quits and disappear into a cold shower,

the leaning rock of recliner,

but I insisted.

Let’s get as much done today as possible.

He plugged away, though watched me work more often than the early morning hours.

And we did as much as we could with the materials at hand.

In a small town, 60 miles from the next bigger town,

we were stuck.

This suited him fine,

and I looked at the mass of wood, crossbeams, canopy pieces, bolts, hoists, nails,

and knew that I was strong.

I was the body that my brain could still


And my father, once capable of anything, was old.

July 19, 2006

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