After a lifetime of farming,
tending land and animals,
you retired.

Replacing the rich smell of dung
with the moist scent of sawdust,
you took up hammer and chisel
to become a carpenter.
You said, half-joking,
it was the best way
to stay out from underfoot.
You told that to a reporter from Ames.

He wrote that should the Grim Reaper
ever knock on your door,
you'd invite him in for checkers
providing he was neither
a Democrat nor a Baptist;
after serving coffee,
playing a few games,
Death would leave,
a new customer.

Like many carpenters
you lost some fingers to your craft,
showing your heart
was in your work--
that sacrifice
being more important
than a few manual digits.

And the heart shows
in each finished product:
the wooden bowls
that came from a lightning-struck tree,
the clocks
all set seven minutes too slow,
or the stool
you built your great-grandson,
the seat
the legs shortened
for smaller legs.