I could have been a surgeon, Grandpa said
as he laid his hands on the wide oak arms
of the Morris chair, his favored place to sit.
He and I examined his hands — bloated veins
on the back and deep gullies on the palm
gave them status. I glanced at my own runts,
seamless and pink with dirt in the fingernails.
Grandpa’s hands never sewed a gash,
straightened a bone or pulled a tonsil out,
but his nuanced strokes with a fountain pen,
his cathedral A’s and new moon C’s swept
across a piece of paper like a pirouette.
He could miter perfect corners on two by fours,
sand, varnish, sand again until a cut of maple
shone velvet brown. With his chisel, poised
between thumb and forefinger, he shaved
tissue thin ribbons that curled from a plank.
He taught me how to drive a nail straight shot.
After Grandpa died, the Morris chair languished.
in our garage for thirty years (who could get rid
of Grandpa’s chair.) Then we flushed out
crickets, restored the cushions and rubbed down
the wood. The chair is in our family room,
its wide arms ready for a pair of good hands.
© Natalie Lobe
Natalie Lobe, a resident of Annapolis, Maryland, published her latest poetry collection, Conversation with Abraham, in May 2012. Her two earlier collections were Island Time (2008) and Connected Voices (2006). Her poems have appeared in Comstock Review, Little Patuxent Review, and The Poets Cookbook. She is a Poet in the Schools for the State of Maryland and Anne Arundel County and teaches poetry at Bates Middle School magnate arts program in Annapolis. She reviewed poetry for the Montserrat Review in 2008-2011.