Hand Saw

Written by Judith Kennedy

I had never taken a hand saw, to anything really,
never drew a tool from my dad’s workbench,
but always curious, sometimes standing in front
of the orderliness of it all, when no one else was around,
the dark corners of the basement with its labeled boxes
and cabinets, hooks on the pegboard for hammers and levels,
measuring devices, pliers, the vice attached to the worktable,
a small block of wood held together with carpenter glue.

I had never taken a hand saw, from the world of my dad,
a mysterious forbidden-to-girls universe,
until later in life long after dad died.
I can still see how his lower lip curls down
as he concentrates on the problem at hand.
I wonder what he thinks of the razor saw
I just bought with its orange, cardboard sleeve,
the green rubber handle, the work gloves, and the hat?

I imagine he walks with me and a dozen others down Chestnut Street
to free up the forest trees from behemoth ivy vines
so the sunlight falls freely on the tops of river birch and sycamore,
so they stand more firmly, can scatter their seed
for more of them to soak up rains, hold floodwaters,
cover us in cooling shade. He’d get it, my dad,
with his mechanical mind, he’d trace the path and flow
of rushing waters, think of all the angles
to stave off storms’ wrath.