Saturday, March 17, 2012

This Is What Happened, and This Is How You Fix It

Whatever happened to the molecules
Of the bunk bed my father built for me?

It was cool, it came straight out from the wall,
Cantilevered, with its own flight of steps,

All cherry, gleaming, highlighting the grain,
Good enough for customers' cabinets,

Designed, cut, sanded, stained, and assembled
In the same shop with my father's best work,

The 1906 Cadillac body,
So much black walnut and leather

He restored for a collector who had
Only the iron machinery left,

The long, low wheelchair-friendly cabinets
He designed for himself as our kitchen,

The replica mahogany rocker
From an 1805 original,

No nails, no power tools, only dowels,
All those projects that obsess carpenters.

The floating bed was my cave and refuge
With a built-in bookshelf and reading lamp,

A place to conceal my first radio,
Later, to smuggle a giggling girlfriend,

A space to crawl into when too lonely
To bear a convivial family,

A place for grubby, ill-formed fantasies
Between sheets, between paperback covers,

No place at all to sit up suddenly
From a nightmare to head-butt the ceiling.

It remained there--strange, hanging, high, bare shelf--
After I and the mattress were long gone,

Until the year after my father died,
When my mother moved nearer grandchildren

And the wheelchaired cabinetmaker's house,
Built, built-on, neglected to near collapse,

Was sold to a church for the property
And promptly razed for God's greater glory.

Dumb, curmudgeonly nostalgia aside,
It had to go. It was falling apart,

Its purposes served, failed, and vacated,
Everything bulldozed, dumped, scrapped, recycled,

Lumber to lumber, metal to metal.
Only the plastic will outlast our days.

I do wish someone had saved the blueprints
For a possible replica someday.

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