Poem: Broken Ribs


Broken Ribs

Your hand slides down the wooden ribs.
There are gaps, far more than mere holes, in the hull.
The wood is rough, at places rotted,
left to weather for a generation
before you brought it here.

The protection in this old shed is minimal.
It is cold and there are gaps in the clapboard.
But still, the roof and walls offer protection,
a slowing of the death
while you begin the work of restoration.

You are not fast in this work. It is new to you
and you are feeling your way, learning the mysteries
of sistering ribs and rope calk.
The roof and walls give you a fighting chance
against the decay of time and weather,

a safe place, imperfect as it is,
a place to undo time
and the damage of neglect.

You have no idea when you will finish,
or if.
That is not the reason you toil
at this invisible and thankless task.
You are aware perfection may not be possible.
The craft is too far gone
and your skills are meager.

But you have been broken yourself
and know the value of safety
and gentle hands. You are aware
that to the broken,
better is worth as much a celebration
as a perfection unattainable.

About this poem

Some breaks never completely heal. True of our spirits and true of our bodies (ask my ribs when a low-pressure front goes through.).  But that is no reason not to celebrate the healing that HAS happened. We are beautiful, scars and all.

The picture was taken at Mystic Seaport.


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