–after a line from Nabokov
Father, deep in workshop thoughts, heaves a neutral sigh
Daddy’s at the workbench. He sighs in resignation.
Pa’s bent over his tools biting his tongue.
Hey Dad, cat got your tongue? Talk to me. No.
Papa’s thinking. Let him work. He doesn’t hear.
Leave your dad alone, can’t you see he wants
to work? Don’t you hear the power
saw? A man’s work, power, keeps him
here, in now, no future, no past, here, now, present
in one-gone-home-bliss-now. If he lets me I’ll sit
sit on the stool and watch. I’ll bite my tongue and click
the wooden ruler-one two three four ‘til he stops
me, watch the bubble float on the level. I used
his best screwdrivers for test stakes damn he was
mad. He doesn’t like damn but at least its not talking
the Lord’s name
I like the way the board looks with the tools drawn
in black–the outline of the saw, hammer shape,
wrenches going downhill sizes around the little
hook holes rows. I’m gonna make one just like that
when I grow up. Make one in the kitchen, hang,
like my mother hangs her copper bottom pots
all shined every time she uses ‘em. It’s vain, you know,
showing how proud you are of a pot. Me, I don’t want
to ever be called Mother. They should say Ma.
Not MaMa, Mommy, maybe Mom OK but I’d like
Ma, if I have to be called anything but my name. I’m vain
about my name. It’s from Gramma, my mother’s
Gramma with the white white skin blue veined
hands. Oldest person in the world sitting in a dark
room and Uncle Otto some kind of son, son-
in-law–sits out in the garage door all day
by a work bench. Like my dad’s only he don’t put
his tools away so neat
Kelley’s writing has been widely published since 2000 in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Friends Journal, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Rattle, the Journal of the American Medical Association and in a number of chapbooks and full-length collections, most recently Toxic Environment from Boston Poet Press, Two Birds in Flame, poems related to the Shaker Community at Canterbury, NH, from Beech River Books, and “In Memory of the Body Donors,” Covert Press. She have received several honors, including a 2008 grant for poetry from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.