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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry for the Mind's Joy > Winning Poem: The Garage Where I Grew Up
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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

His tools hang like cockeyed pictures
in my mother’s garage,
dangling beneath the T-square
we used that October
when we fixed the back fence;
his framing hammer
when we built a shack
on the back of my ‘65 Chevy.

Nail bag slumps in the chilled fall air,
the snap line now empty of chalk.
A carefully carved wooden peg
hangs from a lonely leather strap,
not in the metal eye where it belongs.
The bubble in his level
off-center. His last pallet of lumber
destined for the fireplace.

I strap on his nail bag,
wrap my fingers around
the hammer’s wooden handle,
the indentation of his grip
fits my hand like the folds
in an old leather glove.

The familiar spiderweb hangs
in the front corner of the tool chamber,
a luminous symmetry dancing
toward light, draped
like a gossamer memorial
to silenced hands.

Lake Tahoe Community College, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Faculty Contact: Suzanne Roberts, Foundational English Instructor