Two of our table chairs
wobble when sat on,
she says,
or haven’t I noticed
those wooden groans?
I turn them upside down
and see the years,
how they’ve loosened
high backs from seats
and mitered braces,
screws with no bite
in widened holes.
I’m looking at separation,
about thicker screws,
about switching to inch,
maybe inch and a half,
when my father
and his trick appear
out of a dark nowhere:
toothpicks or
a matchstick
depending on the size
of the hole
that seems to grow larger
the closer I look,
an everyday small black hole.
I go with a matchstick,
slide it in,
then the screw,
then turn to happy resistance,
the squeak of dry wood
the tighter I turn,
the black crack closing
to a mahogany seam
and we’re tight again.
I wink at Phyllis, laugh,
and tap my Polack temple
just as my father did.