Offcuts: The Woodworker

The Woodworker

I sit on the stairs peering over the railing.
My dad is planing on one of his many projects.
The air has an interesting scent;
the smell of wood and sweat
combined with the odor of wood glue and various stains.
The only sound
is the sound of the plane cutting the wood.
The plane cuts curls as it runs over the wood,
which join the others
that decorate the ground.
He wipes his forehead,
cleans his glasses
And hunkers down to inspect his work.
Seeing that it is imperfect,
he begins planing again.
I’ll never understand how he can find
such tedious work
After a final inspection,
he deems it good
And runs a hand through his gray hair,
dislodging a cloud of sawdust
into his shop.
He shakes off the curls
that cling to his body
And starts to vacuum the floor.

– Sarah Vander Woude

My daughter Sarah wrote this poem as an assignment for her freshman-year high school English class. I was in my basement shop, working on a cherry dining table at the time, and didn’t know she was watching me work from the stairs. Sarah used to make a few projects in the shop with me, and we even made her a toolbox of her own when she was seven. I like to think that at least some of what she learned with me in the shop has been applied to her other skills and pursuits. She’s now a junior, and assistant editor of the high school newspaper, as well as an excellent musician (piano and guitar) and all-around great kid.

– Paul Vander Woude

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