He cuts a notch with a router and jig,
fastens the keel with clamps. He thinks
of his wife and the last time they talked
about sailing. He has no words for his sorrow.
Questions scatter with the sawdust at his feet.
He reaches for a handful of three-penny nails,
small nouns that stick, small nouns
like island, boat, god--carpenter, carpenter,
this is how the world is made.
THE WORM GRUNTER
The trick, he says, is to strike
the stob with iron, like
this. He says, hold the stob
between your thumb and finger.
Like a pencil, I say. Stick
the tip, he says, deep enough
so it won't move. Use Black Gum.
Nobody but those sopchoppy boys
from Wakulia use Hickory. He strikes
and I watch the arc of his arm as it
swings the curved iron handle
shaped to fit his palm. I cut this,
he says, myself from the leaf spring
of my Ford truck. Look, he says,
worm signs. I see sand mounds
and ash, groundwater, palmettos.
He says, if I'm lucky I won't get
milkworms. They turn to mush,
he says, at the touch. He strikes
the stob again. I hear
its low drone. He looks down. The worms rise, pink
and fleshy, like fingers. Well,
he says, I'll only get about three
dollars a cup but like I said it's
a real honest way to make a living.