Kentucky Swami

My father cuts his fingers pulling off
rusty tin underpinning from the shed.
He hasn’t stopped to put on the gloves.
A strike with the claw hammer, a pull
with the bare hand, then a sizing up
of a new sheet of galvanized tin.

It’s always the same lesson, his Appalachian
childhood and mine: if we can’t make it,
we have to do without; if we can make it,
then we have to accept corners slightly
out of square and lines almost level.
His fingers leave streaks on bright metal.

:: Tim Skeen, Kentucky Swami (2001)

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