If I Had Only Been More Alert
by Casey Derengowski

If I had paid much better attention
listened to the words he spoke to me
explaining the knots and the grains of woods
the softness of pine, the hardness of oak.

If I had taken more interest in the lessons he taught
how the hand plane glided across the roughness of boards
the angle of the chisel, the tap of the mallet
the depth of the drill bit, the sweep of a curve.

But instead I was distracted by shavings and sawdust
the glint of the hammer, the expanse of the ruler
I completely ignored lumber turning into art
as this Master Craftsmen worked his magic.

If only I had not succumbed to childish whims
boys playing games, girls dancing about
Mom baking cookies, vendors selling taffy
not to mention the ring of the Good Humor truck.

If I could be absolved from the guilt which I feel
for frittering away those precious times
If I could remember every hint he spoke
mimick the movements of his talented hands.

His quest for perfection and nothing less
the finished product so proud to behold
the techniques and rhythms of that skilled woodworker
if only I had treasured that teacher, my Dad.

PHOTO: Woodworking tools.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I especially enjoy writing narrative poetry that addresses morality and the human condition.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Casey Derengowski was born in Chicago, reared in Cicero, Illinois, and presently lives in Southern California with his wife of 50 years. His writing includes publication in the Journal of Modern Poetry, Chicago Press, San Diego Poetry Annual, Summation (the Ekphrastic anthology of the Escondido Municipal Gallery and numerous other anthologies.)