Jagged Edges

              One does not use poetry for its major purposes,
              as a means to organize oneself and the world,
             until one’s world somehow gets out of hand—Richard Wilbur

You hoard the broken bits
memories taped together
until jagged edges smooth
from fingering and time
like those scraps splintered sides

flats and orange-crates torn labels
from such exotic places as Florida
Arizona and Mexico peeled & pressed
to collage later onto the crumbling wall
fade into the Celotex and disappear

but now & then there was the impress
of a too soft peach some half-circle of orange
rimmed in red fuzz as you’d pry loose
the thin  strips of wood a blank canvas
in your hands soon to be sanded with Daddy’s discards
a gray piece of garnet paper a red Dremel disc
gone shiny and left on the workbench
the precious torn squares of some 30 or 80 grit

how you worked them back and forth until
pine went pungent smoothed beneath your fingertips
and then with the broken folding rule measured
a perfect four inches what you could control
before you squeezed out the last of the Elmer’s
added six clip clothespins and how you knew
to snap the wooden splints back onto their springs
when you found them in the bottom of the basket

listened to the wrens until glue went translucent
the signal that it was safe for you to stain them
with the sprung two-inch paintbrush dipped in
what remained in the dregs of tiny cans
of Pratt & Lambert’s Rich Walnut
left them to dry on the square of a porch
on late edition pink sheets of the Kansas City Star

with a bit of help to attach them to the heavy
wooden kitchen door, they held potholders the odd mitten
grocery lists on the backs of envelopes the Hen House flyer
until wood split and screws slid and it was time to scrape
together whatever could be salvaged again
your unlikely possibilities seasoned with hope.