In The Workshop


In The Workshop


I loved to spend time in my Dad’s workshop

in a little shack behind our house

when my bothers went to war

I got to help him

as he repaired the snowmobile

a job that he seemed to do every day

or when he made

little kitchen objects for my mother


his moose-bone-handled tools

were lined up in neat rows of hooks

over the work bench

he would say “spanner seven”

and I would get it for him

his thick fingers held even the heaviest tool

as if it were the most delicate instrument

while he twisted spark plugs

or carved small scenes of robins

into the bowls of pie plates

humming happily

as he concentrated on his work


I would creep into the shed

when he wasn’t there

to sit in the humble stillness

I would brush wood chips

into small piles with my fingers

fondle the handles of his tools

they would feel inviting in my hands

as if holding them

would allow me to do what he could do


the smell of his sweat

mixed with snowmobile oil and grease

became one of the powerful erotic

aromas of my youth

it was into this shack

I would sneak with the boys

whom I had learned to undress

when I was in there with my father

as he showed me how to clean spark plugs

I could visualize where

I had played at my first encounters


sometimes he had me sing

what we were learning in choir practice

he would put his tools down

listen with his eyes closed

his hands on his belly

his fingers moving

as they conducted me from verse to verse

when my mother would call us to eat

I was disappointed

getting more of this moment

than pie could ever give me

sandals sandals in the snow

Workshop is one of my favourites from this series. It is totally fabricated – whereas some of the others have traces of my childhood this one has none – well nearly none – I did fool around with boys in garages but that’s another story.

net the net result

The longing to be as skilled as one’s Dad is real enough. I don’t even recall if I knew any kids whose father had this sort of back shed workshop. My own Dad was skilled enough to do simple handyman stuff around the house, about as skilled as I am today, but was never a craftsman.

crate damned Ikea kits

I wrote this one later in the series so I had some of my ‘ritual’ elements to play with – moose bones, choir practice. Less sexually innocent but sweetly sexual at the same time. I worked to invest it with a sensory appeal: wood shavings, motor oil, the heft of tools, pie. All things that can trigger real memories.

Not a real memory but set in a reality that is memorable.

owl wood not moose bone

One thought on “In The Workshop

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