I am no handyman

He would sit rubbing his balding head,
staring at the broken part, pondering,
certain that no power supply or heating coil,
no if-you-built-it, I-can’t-fix it thing
could hide its mysteries from him.
Once I watched him build, by himself,
a set of dovetailed cupboards—
each shelf level and every support square
on walls and floorboards that weren’t.
It took two shots, but he got it right.

It was the doing of it that he loved,
the way mechanical things surrendered to his will
that in the end separated us.
My father could fix anything—but not me.

I was on an Independence Day ride with a friend recently when we got to talking about our fathers. (On long rides, cyclists have to be imaginative to keep the conversation going.)

Interestingly, both of our fathers were handymen and could build or fix anything. More importantly, however, we also agreed that for the two of us, it just made more sense to get someone else to do it right from the very beginning: it saved the time of the initial attempt, the cursing of the assured failure and the eventual call to the professional to come and do an even bigger job than before we started messing with it. And besides, living this way leaves more time for cycling, and to be honest, it really is all about the cycling.

But one thing my friend said caught my more serious side…that our fathers were great handymen not just out of need (although there was that) but because they loved doing it.

Thank you for reading I am no handyman. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.


Filed under Poetry

6 responses to “I am no handyman

  1. John, I do not know the lingo when it comes to talking about a poem. I really liked “I am no handyman”, but I do not have the right terminology. My favorite phrase in this piece could be ” … the way mechanical things surrendered to his working it through, step by sure step, that in the end separated us …” I hope you are well. T

    • It took a couple of shots at this poem to get it going. One of the things that I kept stumbling over was reducing mechanical prowess to words that flowed and had a poetic ring to them. I’m glad you liked the poem.

  2. A poem from the heart to honour your father, John. I like the sincerity of it and the honesty. Beautiful.

  3. The creative side of engineering is so important, and that is what you inherited, John.

    • Isn’t that funny? I never thought of assembling poems as an art, comparable in its way, to putting mechanical things together. Both surely take imagination to form the concept of the possible end. Hmmm…is there a poem in that? Quick! To the pad…