Richard T. Rauch

Chimney Holder
for Ted, my father

Once he is taken
to his shop in a corner
of an underused greenhouse
on the grounds of Camellia Gardens,
he needs no help, no reminders.

With a copper strip in one hand
and a metal shear in another,
he notches one corner, breaks
an edge to a sharp right angle,
V-snips the other down its length, then
rolls it so both ends meet, creating
something resembling a rustic copper crown,
small enough for a child to wear. He pauses,
holding his crown up to the lighta quick check
before he cranks it through his crimping tool,
giving the crown points a little spring
to better snug their glass chimney.
Riveting the ends together,
he tosses the finished chimney holder
into a plastic laundry basket
for delivery to the assembly plant,
where, with the other handmade parts,
it becomes a one-of-a-kind,
handcrafted copper lantern.

This is his world now, his joy
churning out chimney holders,
one after another, until
his hands begin to cramp
or an aide comes to get him
working in his shop in a corner
of an underused greenhouse
he can no longer find on his own.


Second Generation

It took five years of tries
before one day the cat surmised
she could tread the night away
tucked in the curve
at the back of my thighs.

It took ten years to realize
that mistakes were not the problem,
that the key to success is
working harder to learn from mistakes
no one had ever made before.

It took a second generation
to discover what it means
to be a father, awed
by my son’s natural gentleness
and easy, devoted confidence,
raising my grandchildren.

© Richard T. Rauch

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Richard T. Rauch lives along Bayou Lacombe in southeast Louisiana. A graduate of LSU, he received his PhD in theoretical physics from Stony Brook University. He has lived and worked in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and currently tests rockets at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Poetry credits include Big Muddy, Bindweed Magazine, Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal, The Cape Rock, Confrontation, Crack the Spine, and decomP.

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