My father-in-law rumbles in his work-shed just outside my window,
moving buckets and cans of paint, carrying metal sawhorses
that clank against each other, and—scraping sandpaper against a sheet of metal?
cutting through two-inch cardboard with garden shears?
Now the crescendo subsides into miscellaneous bangs and clatters.
He works so close to where I sit hunched at my desk
it’s like I’m trapped inside an empty paint can, or in the room
where, as I child, I listened to my father in the basement
or on the back deck, where he hammered, banged, sawed, and grinded,
always building, dismantling, or repairing something,
or washing the salt water off his plastic windsurfer sails.
I sat still in my bedroom, eyes clamped to my book, afraid of him
as now I fear my other father in his paint-splattered shirt and jeans,
goggles covering his eyes, his hands sheathed in work gloves,
who stomps around all afternoon without a word for me.