On my haunches on the garage floor, aged eight
My father’s oil-grained hand reaches out from under the car
I place a bright chrome wrench in his outstretched palm
No, not that one, not yet! He can tell by the feel –
No, I need the three-eighth Whitworth!
Its heavy maw hints at gas pipes of old
pitted and dull it is, of forged black steel
a tool of experience and forgotten provenance
that he might have grubbed from his own father
had he known him.
I should have known my father by then
I had been there at the dismantling
seen the order of things, watched their every turn
heard each frightful oath uttered with bloody intent
knuckles and metal in permanent contradiction.
In charge of his instruments,
I should have had them in order of need, however dull
and not gleaming, in my dreamer’s way.
I have that spanner now, handed down
it reminds me of him; and the order of things.