After fixing people’s teeth all day,
my father remained at his office,
alone amid dental impressions
and plaster models, etching my initials
into Sears Craftsman tools.
His painstaking labor embraced
even the slenderest of things—
WTC gleaming silvery
against the matte black of a short-arm,
two-millimeter Allen key.
Each ratchet and socket bore my name.
Conspicuously heavy, inexpertly wrapped,
the stainless steel toolbox
anchored our Christmas tree
when I was thirteen. Today, like a gift
news of the Sears bankruptcy
brings all this back. Now fifty,
and sentimental, I lift the dinged-up lid
to inventory what remains
of my father’s handiwork among
the hodgepodge of intervening years.
If you loan someone your tools
he told me, forget ever seeing them again.
Volunteer to help instead.
Some days I forget I’ll never
see my father again. Gone into death,
he lingers, for a time,
in the graven lines of my name.