Our father repaired typewriters, a lost art. Here is a poem recalling his shop in the basement where he let me help him when I was young.
My Father’s Tools
Leaning over typewriter frame, hands
ink dark with calluses, my father reaches
around type bars and brackets, levers
of tempered steel, hooking a spring,
placing the smallest screw
with magnetized driver. He adjusts
to touch, aligning letters
until they flow in perfect lines,
finger strike to paper.
Broken machines wait on bench
with glass jars of spare parts,
needle-nosed pliers worn smooth,
small torch for soldering type,
hooks, benders, crimpers,
oil can with long nozzle,
cleaning tub with black solvent.
He lets me scrub the type
and pivots, bathe them in oil,
wipe them dry until they shine
like reborn souls. Now the typewriters
are gone but I keep his tools,
fixing any problem. I show my son
how to grasp each one, correct angle,
knowing the tool by its function.
He adds his layer of fingerprints,
imagining machines he will build.
This poem is included in my collection, The Poet’s Garage.