Working in Wood

He works in wood, laying the plank flat
marking it, holding it steady with his hand
and cutting it to size. He does it with ease
a practised hand and eye, moving it aside
to lay another, mark it and cut it in the same way.
The buzz of the saw flings a spray of sawdust
sprinkling the air with its fresh, dry smell.
As he works he talks, telling me stories of his life –
forty years of work and marriage –
and how he’s always worked outdoors – a carpenter,
a builder, a gardener, good with his hands,
it’s what he’s made for. He likes the outdoor life.
He puts down the saw, goes to fetch more wood.
In other parts of the garden children are planting seeds
a man waters beds with a hose, women cut leaves
from the pumpkin plants. The day is overcast and dull
a drizzle-grey, though warm for mid-September.
He returns to cut more planks. He’s making a ramp
that will run from the path up to the stage
which is where he’s working and I’m listening
making notes. The garden, he tells me, is for everyone
to plant veg or flowers, make a patch their own
or just to sit in and relax. The way he states it
is matter-of-fact. The rasping hum of the saw again
and then he’s done. I love creation, he says
the living things, the growing things,
the colour of it, the colour of the garden.
He raises his hand and a butterfly lands on a leaf
and he stands, casting a workman’s expert eye
on the minute by minute unfolding of the morning’s
ordinary miracles. A quick nod, and then he’s gone.
There’s always more work to be done.