“Dad at Rest”

by Paul DeMarco

Three years after you left the earth I found myself
at age 35 building a house—
unlikely enterprise for a bookish boy launched
far from home and class into the cold
hatchery of ambitious professionalism,
where they school from the neck up alone,
where physical labor is something to hire,
only to find myself circling round—
stapling insulation to fir framing all day,
itchy, tedious work, meaningful
only by deadline, intention, economy.

Working to sunlight’s end,
spring eve soundless as the fall of mist,
cool air on blood-warmed skin,
muscle-weary and bone-satisfied.

Those nights you came into the house,
outdoor work done, you sat, child-me sat,
watched foolish programs on TV
and nothing said. Foreign to me how you felt,
though I found it comfortable.
I know it now and I know you that much more:
muscle-weary, bone-satisfied.
Many days since then I have savored such work,
hours spent not for money but love.
When I hammer or till until tender dusk
I remember you each time.

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