Ode to the Gain

gain — a bevel cut into plank ends in traditional lapstrake boat construction that allows otherwise lapped planks to lay flush at stem and transom.

There’s the paring chisel’s purpose
in the steamed cedar strake, its long warp

laid strong against the bench,
whose pocked surface is the book

of what has already been made,
or marred in learning’s wake — & clamped

now in the jaws one is
waiting for its match, for the chisel to elaborate

the pencil’s scribed hypothesis, under which
lies another path, & through a tilting eye

the curving bevel’s made, the chisel rolling
back tight scrolls of thinnest grain & what bright

sleeves begin to fleece the floor; there is a lack
given to the wood, some short song cut loose

from the lignin’s name, that a longer &
more buoyant melody be made.

More Poems by Matthew Nienow