The Carpenter Teaches His Daughter to Breathe
Lisa Zaran

Stardust. Flanked by steel blade. Bully-saw
and there goes the grain. Breeze buffered
by a closed garage door. My father's hands
drowned in sawdust pushes plank under teeth.
Whirrrr! And I'm stoned cupid again
watching him work. No one thing tends
to the sweet smell of freshly cut wood like
I do, young girl straddling a sawhorse.
His hands moving as birds do, swift
and steady as his fingers take flight carving
cross-hatch with the grain. One man's blade
is another man's hunger.

Like a child I lived above the twisted cork
of death. How a toe bone's connected to a hand
bone, a hand bone's connected to an arm bone.
The sweet scent of sawdust. The sunlight filtering
through the dusty window. My father's deep
Norwegian whistle ringing through the spaciousness
of tin roof, cement floor. You'd think I'd have
a consciousness for danger. No, but not even
a brushstroke of min-wax could warn me.

The wood chips lashed like solvent
in his lungs. Graceful though
they flew through the air before
finding his mouth
open with explanation as he leaned
down, showing me a singular artistic curve
of craftsmanship.
See this edge, he'd point, touching the bevel
with the tip of one finger.
And I would nod in delight,
kissing the very words he spoke.
The greater wisdom in him,
covering his mouth to cough.

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