Sweating Copper

My father taught me the hard way:
dusty coveralls in the crawl space

with the water off, and no matter what,
we were stuck there until we finished up.

Cobwebs strung the floor joists
where I had to aim the trouble light

and hold it still so he could see
just what the hell was going on.

If I let it slip, he grabbed my wrist
and dragged the light back where he wanted it

above the tubing cutter and the emery cloth
and the little metal-handled flux brush

in the jar of flux. The solder wire
coiled around itself the way I wrapped

my thoughts on their hollow core.
Then the quiet hiss of bottled gas,

flint-scratch of the spark lighter,
the blue tongue licking through the flame

along the copper pipe to make the solder run
bright as mercury into the fitted seam.

Smell of cool dirt. Smell of coffined air.
Smell of gas and flux and solder vapor

piercing it all like my father’s whisper:
Can’t you pay attention, maybe, just for once?

:: Joseph Green, in Nimrod

No comments:

Post a Comment