My Dad Makes A Walking Stick

Sometimes he will just stare 
into layered forest, like a 

surfer watching waves. Look 
closely, poison ivy, ferns, dogwood 

flowers. Walk with him, see 
downed limbs, branches sprouting 

green, but soon to die. Notice 
these things, the fallen are

hiking companions. Fractured 
Virginia wilderness, hickory, oak, 

walnut, redbud, wood that he studies 
to know. Even before death some are 

stronger than others. Always has 
a serrated folding saw, he holds it 

steady, cuts five or six feet, bits of 
tree dust drift with dragonflies. He

carries these pieces like shouldered 
fishing rods. In the basement, whittling 

knife separates outer bark from cambium, 
sanded before brushed with lacquer to 

dry, then shine, touch the earth again, 
reflect the gleaming sun.

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