Power tools, son. Women might come and go,
but a well-made circular saw will be a joy forever.
I've left the stationary tools, the band saw
and the jointer, but one day you're going to want
to get a copy of all the ones I own: I left the list
by the furnace in the basement, tucked in
where your Mother can't see it. She'll want you
to be an artist or a choreographer or something
silly. What you need to do is practice with hammer
and saw, the basic hand tools. Bang on nails
every chance you can get: I don't want you
to be one of these yuppie Dads who can't hit one
straight. If you get your thumb mashed a little bit,
don't worry, that'll heal, or get your Mother
to take you to the emergency room. I want you
to build your own tree house, you know the one
I showed you in the woods. You can pretend
your a pirate there, or super-hero, or what have you.
The thing to recall is that a power drill will always
be your friend. Being able to do things with your hands
is a kind of magic that you'll be able to get satisfaction
out of. "Poof," and there's a brand new cabinet.
"Poof," and you've repaired the broken toilet.
You've inherited your ability from me, with a few
extra fingers you haven't lost. Don't let it go to waste.
I'll be sending a check every once in awhile,
along with a personal note to you, to help you
in your training. I can't tell you where I'll be,
maybe Mexico, maybe some beautiful island.
Remember your safety glasses, always, son.
I better finish this message before I start bawling.
DONALD ILLICH has published poetry in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, and Cold Mountain Review. He won Honorable Mention in the Washington Prize book contest and was a “Discovery”/Boston Review 2008 Poetry Contest semifinalist.