My Father’s Tools

Thirteen years, one month, and one day after my father passed away, 
I am finally doing something with the few hand tools of his 
that I bought from Mom’s estate after she died five years later.

They have spent the greater part of their time with me 
gathering dust on a rack of old lumber in my garage.

In the dark, early hours of a sleepless August morning,
I am facing a barrage of memories
and forming something of a shrine,
or at least a memorial.

The glow of ceiling shop lights fades into a gravel halo
out beyond the open door while I work above the floor
at the opposite end on a windowless wall.

I have chosen to set them up high 
where they will gain little notice from casual visitors
but will easily remind me—when I choose—
of blisters that turned into calluses,
crops that turned into cash,
lumber that turned into barns,
livestock that turned into food,
days that turned into decades.

Working off the upper steps of a four-foot ladder,
I set nails and screws to place each tool
in a way that keeps some space between each
and holds them well beyond easy reach.

It goes slow with the heavy touch
of hard, cold steel in the wrenches,
the menacing tip of the tobacco spears,
the smooth, years' worn feel of the burley knife,
the fine-toothed blades of meat saws,
a large, long, handle-less auger bit
and the warm, wooden grips of the old hand saws.

And with each I remember the man
I feared, loved, and eventually admired,
and the dawn-to-dark hours of growing up
on a dairy farm in western Kentucky
where it seemed that he knew how to do everything
that needing doing with wood, wire, pipe, brick, or block,
or even dirt and seed.

I have plenty of other tools
to do the jobs I choose to do
from time to time
and I’m not planning on using these
in the common manner as might be expected.

Sometimes, such things as these
have earned a greater respect,
although it is hard to imagine any greater
than that earned by a tool that does well
what it was designed to do.

But there are occasions 
when the hands that have held such things as these
have made them more sacred and more pleasing
than the purpose they were given.
Such things as this should not be too easy to touch.

These have earned their rest
and so has he.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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