His hands were as big as he was tall
“Plates of meat!” the other men called ‘em.
They swallowed the plane handle inside those mits
and I defied any grain or knot to answer back
when he swiped it along the length and breadth of an
ugly board of wood, be it oak, walnut, cherry or ash.
His name was George, a man of presence, of presence
and you might fear his very presence until he then
smiled and pulled you unwittingly into
his world of making.
I say pulled because most men have no such power as he,
a command by presence, by working, by word
and by skill.
Few if any have ever matched the George I knew,
a man who taught me, caught me in my teens to lift me
above my station and make me able to craft my life
for you meet such men but once in a lifetime
and most never do or will but still
I’m glad for his choosing me an apprentice yet to be made
into a man in the last generation before college
trampled underfoot that age-old right of passage
that once held good that took a boy into
becoming an artisan of presence
And here I am now settled in my 73rd year, of 57 years in the making
of an artisan from a thin-limbed lad
having jumped from the high-dive springboard
into a river filled with joy, still a boy
excited by the simple substance of making
that grows as a tree year on year without fail
writing a poem about the deep things
that matter most.