“Woodworking Lesson” by Mike Zimmerman

Again, I’m with my father in the wood shed:
My aching wrists hold a rusted bucket of nails
For him while he cuts two by fours. Soon I’ve shied
Away, against a wall, as he saws, sands, and kneels
For leverage. I’m not a very boyish boy. I’d rather
Be in my room, I think, reading a classic, some Homer
Perhaps, or sweeping up the kitchen, or helping lather
Laundry with mom. But he’s picked up the hammer.

“Hold some nails out for me,” he says, once he’s lined
The first one up and tapped it. Then, forcefully, precise,
He brings the hammer up and down until few are flush
With the wood. “Now it’s your turn.” I feel my soft flesh
against my thumb. “What if I hit my finger?” His advice
is action instead: he places the hammer in my small hand.

Mike Zimmerman is a writer of short stories and poetry, as well as a middle school Writing teacher in East Brooklyn. His previous work has been published in Cutbank, A & U Magazine, and The Painted Bride. He is the 2015 recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press and a finalist for the Hewitt Award in 2016. He finds inspiration and ideas from the people and places he loves. Mike lives in New York City with his husband and their cat.

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