my father didn’t believe and didn’t wait
for holy intercession. He mislaid his gloves
faster than his temper. He wasn’t careless,
though I never knew him to lay hands
on the tool he needed when he needed it.
So he bought pair after pair, suede
cowhide fit to stretch barbed wire. Still,
he usually worked with only one hand
sheathed and sometimes then
with the fingers blown out, each digit
ruptured by the snag of steel points
reaching next to rip open skin.
Now, I find his leather fingers cupping air
like wren nests, lingering in buckets,
on shed shelves, on the aged oak floor
of the barn loft, in the midst of a task,
maybe a pair of nails within reach
as if he’ll return when he finds his hammer.