Amy Nemecek is a freelance book editor living in rural Michigan with her husband, their teenage son, two cats, and a Yorkie. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Vine Leaves Literary Journal and Mothers Always Write. When she's not working with words, she enjoys watching baseball, playing the violin, hiking, cross-country skiing, and researching family history.
“The Work of Our Hands”
Establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands. (Ps. 90:17)
We create alone, together,
He below stairs, I above.
His saw and plane and lathe
Hum steady tempos
To my scratching pen,
His hands grip tools that
Block, gouge, hone,
Smooth rough wood into
Bowls, platters, cups, pens,
Shavings of maple, walnut, cherry, oak
Curling to the floor until
Desired dimensions remain.
Just so, my hand grips pen to
Block, gouge, hone,
Smooth rough words into
Sentences, paragraphs, images, moods,
Shavings of adverbs, articles, nouns, verbs
Curling to the page until
Imagined ideas remain.
Geometries echo in my ink,
Metaphors echo in his wood,
Each of us imaging our Image,
Working over-under in wonder
With the One who crafted our calling.
Let His favor be upon us.
“Prospect Park, Winter 1930”
Out on the porch steps my mother would feed them
Butter sandwiches, hot coffee, and yesterday’s milk,
Proffer last week’s papers as insulation,
Then point them on their transient way with a prayer.
They’d pound the pavement or ride the rails,
Some young, some old, some sober, some not,
All sons, husbands, fathers, friends.
I suspect a secret hobo telepathy
Signaled to stop at our door.
One beggar was the age my brother would have been.
Mama gave him the coat out of Papa’s closet,
The new topcoat he wore only to church,
Heavy, soft, black, with gleaming buttons.
Yards of costly cashmere would warm the boy.
My father was silent at supper.
“He looked so cold, Hen,” I heard Mama say.
“You already have a coat for everyday.
Wear that to worship until we save for another.”
On Sunday we walked through biting wind.
Papa turned up the frayed collar of his work jacket,
Brushed at a grease-stained sleeve,
Then slid his fist into the patched left pocket.
Passing the alley where men huddled around oil drums,
We glimpsed dark wool within the cluster.
Chapped fingers protruded from too-long sleeves,
Stretched toward embers to hoard heat.
Papa squeezed my hand. Mama hugged his arm.
I wake while it’s dark
And lie in bed waiting,
Watching to welcome wan rays.
I rise, brew coffee, press
My husband’s shirt and pants.
A boys’ choir warbles on the radio.
Without warning, sunrise.
Snow turns gray
It’s hard to keep watch
When two-thirds of day