A week since I put my labradore to sleep
& I’m perusing the bric-a-brac of frat house yard sales
for diversions. I spot an adjustable wrench among
the Waffle House coffee mugs & worn IKEA desks.
The flat, grey luster. Titanium. Exotic, but common
in hospital operating rooms where surgeons
thread metal through shattered limbs, how did it arrive?
Maybe stolen by an orthopaede’s son– a student,
still jealous of the years in it spent in trauma
with his father. I remember one week, face buried
in a science fiction book, I ignored my dog’s whining
as I turned the pages. Morning, & the book lay
ripped apart, shredded paper turned to pulp & drool.
But the wrench has seen care. Nothing mars
the tool’s face. Smooth, the jaw moving in the oiled track
reminds me how I withhold affections.
Exquisite also in his loneliness, a professor I knew
said he only measured the things disappointing to him
& so never granted that his daughter’s Ave Maria
held the clear legato of crystal as she baked pie,
beat meringue four inches high. Of his children,
he favored a briefcase requiring his love’s rubrik locked
behind dual combinations his son would someday
douse in gasoline. Neglected, who wouldn’t steal,
or burn even the leather foundations for attention?
I inspect the wrench again, see my tired, bagged eyes
mirrored in its dull finish. I put it down, drive away,
choose not to mistreat anything so precious.
Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro, and as co-editor for Cobalt Review. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he also turns a lathe, crafting pens under the name Scorched Ink Penturning. His first collection How We Bury Our Dead was released by Cobalt Press in March, 2015.