Forty degrees; the threat of rain. That time of fall
When we are most inclined to end it all.
Denim-jacketed, with a faded sweatshirt hood,
He draws his plane along a length of wood,
Then takes a chisel to a cornice piece
With two light taps. His movements never cease;
His cracked and callused hands, in gloves with fingers cut,
Rub up for warmth, then start like hares hawked by his thought.
He knows no other work; wants none. He learned this from
His father—brace and auger, bob and plumb—
The same way he learned how to hunt or take a beating:
Not by words but by a look, and by repeating
Mutely each grimace, wince, set of the jaw.
His job is more than workmanlike. No flaw
Or gap offends the eye. Each post and bull-nose stair
Seems proof of love—if love is proved by excess care.
“Independent Contractor” from One Unblinking Eye by Norman Williams. Published in 2003 by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio (www.ohioswallow.com).
Source: One Blinking Eye (Ohio University Press, 2003)