||Letter to my father
Neglect, pure and simple, brought this on,
but age and incompetence put beyond my reach
the means to make our garden gate fit snugly
in its gap
. . . . . . . . until this recent rain swelled,
as it will, the wood, or sprung a joint
and we needed our special doorstop stone
to keep out neighbours' glances.
. . . . . . Finally, I've cursed it
off its hinges, sawn off (not straight)
the bottom three rotten inchesbut
that's not rot's end. Overmastered,
I've called in Steve from Sunbeam Timber Products
to bail me out.
. . . . . . Now, waiting
for the gate he's going to make,
I think of you, and how this
was the last carpentry you did for us,
and that disturbs the sediment of guilt.
Maybe I should have thought of this,
unhinged and stripped and painted while I could
done this in remembrance of you.
. . . . . . But that was never your way. Use
and practicality was all. Besides,
your years as master craftsman were long gone,
and I can't help noticing where your saw missed
or chisel slipped. We're more alike
than either would confess. I know how
to read Shakespeare with twelve-year-olds,
but couldn't do it now without slip or mishap.
. . . . . . So let it go. We'll have a new gate
by next week. I'll close it and think of you.
Stuart Nunn is a newly retired English teacher, most recently teaching linguistics at a further education college in Bristol, England. He has been published in a few UK print magazines, including Smiths Knoll and South, once or twice in on-line magazines, and once won a minor prize in the Bridport International competition. His plans for retirement are not fully formed.
© 2006 Stuart Nunn