Refinishing Weather

With all of August crackled, baked, and hazed,
The soothing thought of watching paint congeal
Or smoothing where a bureau top had raised,
Began to hold a certain warped appeal.

He lathed away those days this way, revealing
A depth that wasn’t there beneath a surface,                                          
Or mastering an art he’d use concealing                                                      
A flaw, then his technique, and then its purpose.

Some finishes are better not begun,                                                                               
With others luster quickly disappears,
And some, quite literally, are never done –
French polishing goes on and on, for years.

But, then, re-anything implies a loss,
A lack of permanence, an un-remaining,
The way each burnished analine’s deep gloss
Some day inevitably needs re-staining.

That didn’t trouble him, the work felt good;
As when, in sanding down a table round,
His hands and paper whispered with the wood,
To shape an intricate, sustaining sound.

He was refinishing. He liked the way
The word proclaimed the task's utility
Yet, looked at cool and clear, would still convey
A hand at faking and futility.


by Frank Osen