The Woodturners Consider My Father’s Old Screwdriver

Mitch and Rich pass it back and forth between them,
turning it over, the worn red wood handle rolled
in their large hands as they inspect the thin blade,
darkened with age, a piece of its tip missing.

It’s a precision screwdriver, they agree; a carpenter’s
tool for finer work, like making cabinets or drawers,
with all those hinges and small screws. Or it could be
a gunsmith’s tool, Rich says. They pause, look down
at my widening eyes. You could always use it for
your eyeglasses, Mitch says, handing it back to Rich.

I watch how carefully they hold it, fingers sliding
over old wood and steel, how much time they take
to consider its past. Would you like us to smooth
the blade, Rich asks, and they do. While he works,
he tells me how better metals replaced most tools
like these. You probably couldn’t sell it for much,
Mitch says; but then you wouldn’t want to.

—Sandy Stark, Madison