The workshop rang with loud singing, singing full-voiced, deep. The men sang all day, old songs I learned along the way as we planed and sawed, quick wristed, smooth actions in time with the notes of songs.
I tried singing low and I did, a bit, now and then, high, high, a break, then low, but they sang low, all the time with every note tuned to melodies that filled in harmony as we built a staircase.
Riser, tread, nosing, wedge, stair string, stringer, glue block, housing, half landing, quarter landing, dog-leg, newel post, balustrade, baluster, handrail, new words rolled off singing tongues, I plucked them from the air, the words about the stair and kept them, stowed them, held them tight.
I was happy in the songs of work and the melody of our saws racing through the wood and the sawdust we thrust in synchrony from the kerf in each falling stroke the saw cut.
It was rhythmic, a rhyming of those compelling strokes I liked the most, poetry in the saw, the plane, the mallet’s beat to mortised hole, a sweeping plane and a muscled straining, planing, sawing, chiseling, malleting and there it stood, a staircase, sung into being by men and boy, a few hand tools and willing hands united in the growth of wood and the standing of a thirteen-tread staircase.