My uncle taught me the workaholic phrases
a handyman possesses like his skills.
(It’d be years before I learned a firm mattress
is duller than a choir of exploding heads.)
You’ve got to knock or tap and put your ear
to the surface to identify whatever might
connect a picture to the wall or separate
the laughter from the crying in the other room.
(It’d be years before I learned nine-tenths of the law
is fluctuant like a bathtub full of tomato juice.)
In the right hands, the abilities to rap and listen
take back the oak and rock from the wrong
hands. (But doing that too much will make you
blind.) An old bone cold-bound produces
dead sounds; it doesn’t blanch or make a workman
blush like the shame of a job poorly done.