The Last Answering Machine Message from a Father to His Five Year Old Son 

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. 
The Adirondack Review