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“thoughts sitting at a grandfather's workbench”
by Michael Patrick McSweeney

here, his hands held iron tools
lit by a bright, dangling bulb
that swayed each time he passed.
this red-handled hammer once drove
thick nails into a long, blue plank
meant to hold thirty years worth of glass figurines.
time had added to his wife’s collection,
& once she asked, his fanged saw-blade
roared with purpose into the heart of a log.
within hours the new shelf gleamed on the wall,
the crowd of glass people glistening above the living room.

these days, his workbench is quiet, & the only sounds
you can hear are the occasional rumblings of the furnace
& the scuffles of shadow-hidden mice.
his hands aren’t here to peel open a creaky toolbox,
but the instruments of will sealed inside by old cobwebs are still strong
despite the slashes of rust that try to obscure their luster.

no--his hands are beneath the patch of grass
we kneel upon each year to press pairs of marigolds
into the bright green grass while whispering old stories.
their palms now sleep across his heart,
a ringed finger & its brothers resting
pale & joined together in the earth.

& yet...--perhaps it's time to clear the gauzy fog of webs
from the workbench, lay wide boards & urge screws
as a power drill roars & the walls quiver with new life.
right now, the sun is peering through splashes of dust
on a narrow window, coating the table in a faded layer of daylight.
I pick up the hammer, brush its rust-choked neck
with my fingers & when I do,
flecks of brown & black age chip off & fade
as if they never happened.


Michael Patrick McSweeney is an artist and educator from the Boston region. His work has appeared in numerous journals and various regions of the Internet thanks to truly wonderful individuals. He is also the founder and chief financial officer of a used submarine conglomerate, the business website of which can be found at discountsubmarines.wordpress.com, and he hopes you have a great day.