Posts Tagged ‘antique shovel’

Ode to My Old Shovel

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021
 After admiring Fred’s—a thin, 
 stubby-bladed thing
 that cut just deep enough, 
 freeing up a perfect scoop 
 of manageable dirt 
 my softening arms could heft
 without undo sweat or back 
 damage—the old farmer 
 told me I could likely find one 
 in the junk store
 across the tracks, owned 
 by a local hoarder 
 who turned her piles of pots, 
 clothes, games, lamps, 
 tarnished antique spoons, 
 vintage knick knacks,
 candy dishes and early 20th 
 century shovels into cash. 
 I did. There it was in the back 
 corner of the dim building, 
 cobwebbed, silently sifting 
 dust with other forgotten, 
 slim implements, rusted brown, 
 all of them leaning 
 against walls and each other 
 like a morning lit table 
 of retired farmers sipping coffee, 
 gossiping, reminiscing 
 the sweet promise of rain 
 in the nose. How to describe 
 this beauty? Wood handle 
 weather-grooved but still tight, 
 easy to replace, gripless. 
 Like Fred’s, the stepless, 
 long-collared blade 
 is extra thin and strangely shallow, 
 its mysterious, misshapen tip: 
 purposely forged? or—
 workworn down to a gentle 
 inverse curve, exactly opposite 
 the pointed end you’d expect, 
 not unlike a slice 
 of homemade bread,
 yin to a new shovel’s yang, 
 as if a young man, 
 this woman, could slowly smith 
 the perfect tool 
 against the fire inside 
 a sweaty cotton shirt, 
 file it in the giving grit 
 of simple earth.   

2021
with gratitude to my old neighbor and friend, 
Fred Wahlert of Brush, Colorado