In my father’s woodshed

In my father’s woodshed,
there is a silence; a heaviness.

Dust settles over saddles, sweat-crusted blankets,
over hinges that carry a last memory of grease,
of long use in the summer heat.
The leather stiffens with each frost, brittle under my hands.

I see it on the lake,
when the water is still and murky.
After autumn rains, when the fields in the empty lot are slick and brown,
I catch a glimpse.
In the freshly-stained deck, when wet paint warns the children away:
I sink my hands into the memory.

A color that reeks of sandwiches in paper bags,
leathered hands, and a temper.
Of a man unbending at the end of life, even when his mind came unmade.

We tore it down after the old man died,
but I will carry the color of that woodshed with me all the days of my life.

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