A big man, a big-hearted booming man,

he took new planks of wood and noting the grain,

drew plans, sanded, and sawed,

assembling easles, shelves for books, toy ships.

Too little and still, she'd watch,

and sometimes he'd stop

and let her clumsily pound nails.


When she grew up and left, he retired,

volunteered to work with preschoolers,

and she'd sometimes stop by to watch him,

a giant with little ones holding

each calloused finger splayed out,

too many children for a whole hand.


He's grown small and confused,

only loud when he curses himself.

She watches his trembling hands

as they attempt to button his shirt.

Because he had noted her grain,

she knows to let him do what he can.