For Joe Pacenka,
In celebration of his 39 years
of at Lincoln-Sudbury

Was it really surprising that he could so
quickly take stock, read the grain,
note the knots, and run his eye down the edges
to check for warp,

all in a passing glance,

though he never chose to separate them into
#1 and #2 boards, each to their
own racks, but took them
as they came, both the pine and oak

together. He showed them
how to join wood, and weeks
later, having carted
home assorted
spice racks, benches, stereo cabinets,

even they began to suspect
they had really
learned something else, finding
themselves with a

new finish of sorts,
more complete, like discovering
a new hand,
always useful in this world. Safety
glasses on forehead, he stood

quietly amid the buzz and roar of actual
(nothing virtual allowed
here!), ruling his domain with just
a look, a grin, a wisecrack,
an encouraging

putting the pieces
together, and
using only that strongest adhesive
called love,
which makes clamping completely

unnecessary, while he taught them
many things-
to stick with it, respect detail,
take care of tools,
lectured them on safety,
when to use nails, when screws,
how to view a problem, or artfully
fix a mistake, so

how could they have known, eyes
down and busy, Ômidst
all the building and
banging, the sawing
and routing, that

it was their spirits he was
turning on his lathe,
taking off the rough spots here, adding an interesting
curve there,
bringing out the grain,

but never ever letting on,
except for a wink now and again,

or a twinkling eye.

June 23, 2002

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter