January 27, 2008

When I Am Asked

     When I am asked
     how I began writing poems,
     I talk about the indifference of nature.—Lisel Mueller

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about my father’s bruised
thumbnail, how my father, grandfather
and uncles, carpenters all,
stride the bare trusses of my childhood
in cracked work boots, each
with one ridged fingernail turning
purple then black then yellow forever.
They are building our home again
out of things that can hurt them—
concrete blocks and rough wood
and nails longer than my fingers.

My mother collects all the dropped
nails and shingles, singing hymns
and John Denver songs.

—Amy Watkins

Posted by dwaber at January 27, 2008 02:21 PM