Monday, March 23, 2020

advice from the practical

the shop, and the soul

in shop class my student realizes she is capable,
she learns how to use machines
to cut, to drill, to shape wood into a useful form,
a form she conceived and achieved,
something more real than the dance of pixels on a screen,
even more real than the dance of those words 
I so dearly love, in books and writing, 
words which are grounded in the concrete, at their best,
but still beyond touch and concrete substance,

today our cars are engineered beyond our tinkering,
our food usually has a store between it and the ground,
our appliances warn us not to attempt their fixing,
or even opening them at all,
instead of knowing where we are
and finding the way ourselves to where we want to go
with a map, with signs, with dead reckoning,
we become servants to our GPS,
let it find the way that we slavishly follow,
and woe to us if it is suddenly not there,

I want to figure the way myself, when I can, 
on the road, in the wood, in my life,

the girl at the first of this poem
finds out in shop class
that she is not a princess,
for whom others toil,
but instead she is a mover and shaker 
who can do more than she thought, 
if she but will,
the practical shouts at us to learn our world,
to know our world,
to open ourselves to be actors in our own play.

by Henry H. Walker
March 20, ‘20

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