It is 9 years since my father, Alan Harry Herbert Wills, died. The pain of loss is not as keen now. Is that because of time or distance? That is the realm of the physicist/philosopher.
Still sharp, though, are the memories of his ways, and the older I become, the more etched many of them are becoming in my being. He lives on in me.
The Tool Room
The narrow room next to the laundry
Was an architectural aberration,
A cavity which, given a door
With a key, became
The Holy of Holies.
Outside it, garden tools leaned like
Once-hopeful acolytes waiting
To catch a glimpse of the arcane
Ah, within – a narrow, hand-made,
Hand-me-down vise, and a hundred
Half-filled jars of rarely-used
Fasteners, washers or pieces of
Carefully sliced cork to be used
In who-knows-what obscure task.
Precision hand tools – some
Hand-made – hung from
Makeshift brackets, or huddled
In type on dedicated shelves.
The air was all sawdust, turps,
Lubricants and linseed oil, and,
If not properly sealed, the pipe
Tobacco in the coloured tin
On the second shelf.
I go there often in my mind, to see
The notches from a poorly handled
Wood chisel, see the shavings and bent nails,
The bricks in the wall that dried
Woodstain brushes – like a nuanced
Checkerboard – and the clear nail polish that he used
To seal the dozens of cuts and scrapes that he
Wore over year like medals hidden
Under a coat; I feel them when I hold
This screwdriver – ineffectual, rounded, chipped blade,
Wooden handle paint-stained and darkened
From decades of use – and hear the instruction
To let the tool do the work
Or you’ll wind up one yourself.
These are the things that hold me,
Keep the connection, echo in the soul
When a job’s well done, draw a smile
Instead of a curse when a nail is bent.