Eileen Mattmann

Daily I fall in love with carpenters

After Elliot Fried’s “Daily I fall in Love with Waitresses”

Daily I fall in love with carpenters
with their names engraved on handles of tools,
burned into the inside of a drawer or
embroidered on an oval name tag
LEO  AL  LARRY  RICK
and their steel-toed shoes.
I love how they lean over the table saw
mouths pressed in a thin line of concentration
pushing a two-by-four or sheet of plywood
across the spinning blade, making it scream.
A pencil behind their ears, eyebrows prickly
with sawdust, nails hang from their
James Dean lips like cigarettes.
I see them run their hands over a smooth sanded
surface, steady hands and cool eyes judging,
run a tape measure out a far distance,
then bend it down to read the result, retracting
it into the belly of its case with a metallic slap.
Daily I fall in love with carpenters
with their planes and power tools, their grit
and glue, glossy polyurethane.
They know the secrets of joining
and I want them.

They know dovetail joints, cheek cuts, jack studs,
know rough carpentry, the fine finish,
keep to themselves what hides behind drywall.
Daily I fall in love with carpenters,
but they have no time to whisper sweet bits,
they hypnotize with the swinging plumb bob,
retreat under shop headphones.


Come here

and give me a kiss. No,
not some old people’s kiss,
a quick peck
on the lips, gone
before it registers
in my brain, a dry brush-by,
then on to do something
important. No – put your

big warm hands
on my cheeks,
move in slow,
give my eyelids time to fall,
your lips soft over mine,
like I remember them
back in the days
of sweet dizzying,
such attention to tenderness,
of seeing with eyes closed.
Back away,

and come again,
let my insides dissolve,
all velvet plush –
then walk away, satisfied,
a gleam in the eye,
to do that other
inconsequential thing.


Bury Them Deep

We bury as deep as we can the debris
of living, the rubble perversely revisited,
unearthed when digging foundations or holes
for trees, blinking, mole-like in the light
as passersby gawk or turn in dismay,

crumpled bogeymen, under a bed
of decomposed leaves, dreams tattered, hopes
splattered, old loves in heart-shaped boxes,
warm to the touch; some, like chocolates
pinched, still ooze,

memory pieces link themselves in myriad ways,
and who is to say what is truth? Secrets, furtive,
scuttle to corners; hurts, some nursed,
remain red, raw, still twitching, others crusted
with the welcome balm of time.

Cover them, let the remains remain
where we put them, the earth a Pandora’s box,
the only markers a weeping
willow, strangler figs, or the occasional
fruitless olive.


 

Eileen Mattmann is a Wisconsin poet whose poems have been published by BoomerLitMag and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ 2016 calendar.