POETRY
At the Home Depot
Sharon Kennedy-Nolle

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
Always at home with a hammer
and a couple of two-by-fours,
you’d be at the bench, 
or feeding boards through the blades,
after you lost at cards.
Not a son, I was in the way—
though I did take shop.
Remember the magazine rack?
All my design,
a clever filigree.
But I lacked
jigsaw skill.
You made it
for me, so I failed.
I was not to touch your tools,
only sweep up after the drill’s curlicue shavings,
just dust the vise.

Now the workshop is as you left it.
The band saw still seems off and running,
its gruff snarl ready
for the knotty pine of your pain.
Mallet out, lids off
baby food jars of hooks and eyes.
Christmas sleds, half assembled,
needing planing
in the half-paned cellar light.

With you in your box for nearly a year,
Mother thinks you’ll come back
as a blown socket or perhaps a door unhinged.
Pushing my orange empty cart,
I cruise the hardware aisles,
flipping through all the laminated “how to’s.”
I just want to reconstruct you,
fond as I am of the crowbar, clamp, Sawzall,
I’m wrist deep in nail bins, where
another fistful of ten-pennies falls.

I come away with a wrench, nothing more.


A graduate of Vassar College, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle holds an MFA and doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. She has attended the Frost Place Summer Writing Program in 2014 and 2015 as a merit scholarship recipient. This year, she was accepted to the Bread Loaf Conferences in both Middlebury and Sicily. Her poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Dickinson Review, Juked, The Lindenwood Review, The Round, The Syracuse Review, and The Westchester Review, among others, while her dissertation was just published as Writing Reconstruction: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postbellum South (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Her book, Writing Reconstruction: Gender and Citizenship in the Postebllum South, is available here