John Foggin

YOU ASKED ME

did anyone share their secret?
There were the aunts
who tried to teach me how to sew,

how one might thread a needle,
draw a thread between pursed lips
to wax the frayed end to a point,

the way they stretched
a piece of fabric taut
on the tips of three fingers.

*

The aunts are dead
I watch You Tube.
A man at ease

at the top of a ladder,
hip into the upright,
wind ruffling his shirt.

He slides a slate ripper’s blade
under one cracked tile,
tells me how to feel

for the nail head, hook it in,
and with one smart hammer blow
cut the copper nail.

I have a slate ripper in my cellar,
a bag of copper nails,
a pack of copper tingles.

I have slates stacked in the shed.
I ‘ve never used any of it.
I want him to be true.

*
You asked me
if there was one thing
I would I like to do well

I would like to use an axe well.
I would like to own one good axe.
I would like it to sit right in my hand.

Outside the off-license
on a day of wet snow,
I saw a man with a dark hawk on his wrist.

It sat still and untroubled
on his gloved hand, and he wore
the glove and the hawk as a single thing.

That is how I would like to hold an axe.
To know how it would fly true
to the point of grain in the wood

where it splits white and honey
and scented, when each split piece sings,
that simple bright note.

I would like that, since you ask.

You asked me by John Foggin won third prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2019) judged by Mandy Pannett.

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