— after “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

Saturdays my dad wakes beneath the still-bruised
sky. Then with number-crunching hands,
arthritic from calculating sixty hours
a week, he jigsaws silhouettes out of pine
for people’s yards, making vacation cash
we use each year. I never thought to thank him.

I’d forgotten the pattern for the capped boy,
shoulder slung with baseball bat, was a fourth-
grade photograph of me. The little girl stooped
over her midnight kitty was Laney three years ago.

As I watch him through the basement
window staining the wood jet black, sealing
us in shadows from the past, he’s gentle,
stroke after stroke. And, for a time,
so like the man I used to know.