Unexpected Visit

crossing campus in the rain, sometimes i duck into mechanical engineering

it’s an excuse really; i don’t much mind the rain

behind the renovations and steel double doors,
down a long narrow hallway, is a room i’ve never entered

a door with frosted glass says plainly: research shop

the professors bear their ponderous brows in silence; the students speak a jargon of deltas
none speak to me as i pause, eye closed, to breathe deeply

the sharp tang of hot curling metal and cutting fluid,
the rumble of carbide biting steel,
the rhythmic thrum of lathe and mill and

i feel my father near: his curling hand-cut leather vest, his broad felt hat and spectacles, his beard gone gray, his calloused hands stained from years of grime and hard labor

my own hands meet softly as in prayer, long studious fingers unmarked, unmarred, so like and unlike his, and i half expect to see him there
when i open my eyes

he’s not — still i look down to see
his fingerprints
all over me

— j. thorp
june 7 2011

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