A Small Space After by Tony Morris

I pared some pieces down,
whittled ends to nubs
then stepped away—
the needle rasp, the riffler,
jigs and hasps all splayed
across the bench—then walked
the hill back home
where she‘d buckled, bowed
and fell between
the sink and kitchen table,
her floral apron spilled
like paint around her crumpled legs.
And as she held on like a moth
out of wing in winter, I shuffled
back from house to shop each day
and worked the wood
with carcass saw and chisels,
rat-tail rasp and marking knife,
then I spun the vice jaws tight
that held the glued and mortised
ends, and there it stayed,
until her last days passed
and I had cleaned and swept
the floors and brought the flowers
all inside. And after drying
that first load of clothes,
precisely folding every rag
and garment simple so (edge
and corners matched
and lined up at the seams),
I placed her clothes into the chest
and tried to close it—but it stuck.
A tiny gap, a little space
was all, a small strip misaligned,
no more, and so I turned and walked
away, left the wood to rub.
Tony Morris’ most recent chapbook, Greatest Hits, was published by Puddinghouse Press (2012). Recent publications include: River Styx, Green Mountains Review, Connecticut Review, South Carolina Review, Hawaii Review and others. He’s the managing editor of Southern Poetry Review and the director of The Ossabaw Island Writers’ Retreat.