Ode to the Steam Box

The steam box is used for bending   frames and planks in traditional boatbuilding.

With a match I became a man
who summoned diesel

from the yellow caverns
of a ten-gallon jug, called the flame

now hissing out the hose
at the small house of  water, that

rusted drum from which travels
an excruciating wetness — this

is what makes the body
otherwise, what makes it

sing. To take that
which has decided on a shape,

and bend, without breaking,
the lengthening fibers. To give

the straight thing curve.
To make of  the tree a song

grown long in a linseed skin,
the slick hot strake waiting

to become parcel
of  the round world again.

More Poems by Matthew Nienow