Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Would Jesus Say?

Power tools crouch in the cold,
radial and table saws alert
in muck of sawdust. Fringed

with yesterday’s snow, the scene
features two green unfolded
A-shaped Fiberglas stepladders.

Atop one, the carpenter,
laden with tools, examines
the slot where the next board goes.

Replacing this rot-damaged
oriel window’s not easy.
I wish I had the skill and drive

to correct whole worlds of decay,
rasping and crosscutting lumber
the mills have badly undersized.

Two-by-fours are an inch and a half
by three. Six-inch trim is five
and a quarter. What would Jesus,

an honest carpenter, say about
such crass and cheap imprecision?
This fellow in maroon hoodie

works without complaint, ripping
boards to exact measure, scrapping
a lot of scrap. I’d like to rummage

through that barrel of wood-waste
and take home something to use.
He probably wouldn’t object,

but I’m too shy to ask. Edged
with tough black paint, new glass
looks crisp as ice on the lake.                                                      

Behind slabs of particle board
the restaurant hums as usual—
old gossip, fake news, politics

chatty as migrating birds.
I could treat myself to coffee,
but I’d rather watch this work:

the new framing emphatic enough
to affix a single perspective
that could force us all to agree.