Half Old. Half New.
It is slow work, restoration.
The chipping away.
The replacing of rot and rust,
the chiseling of old wood,
the steel brush against old iron.
none of them, in themselves, important
enough to save the work,
each of them, in themselves, vital
to the finishing.
It is slow work, restoration,
often a making worse before progress,
messy, too often discouraging,
trial and error. The books never tell you everything
you need to know,
only the facts, never the emotion
of fact and failure, how your soul,
as much as the antique beneath your hands,
falls and rises, how much there is to learn,
even about the most intimate artifacts.
You cut your fingers.
Burn your skin.
Your muscles ache at the repetition
necessary. You learn like a child.
It is hard work restoration,
and when you are done,
the thing before you is no longer the same.
Half old. Half new.
Half what it was. And half you.
About this poem.
I love restoring old things. Lamps. Furniture. Whatever. And the poem can be about that if you like.
When I began to crawl out of my darkest places, I told the therapist that I wanted to become who I had once been. She wisely did not laugh. We can never become what we were. Once broken, parts of us are dead, rotted away. And so our own restoration is not unlike the restoration of things. Saving what is saveable. Replacing the rest, sometimes with the entirely new. The bible speaks of this. So do psychology manuals. But there is nothing like living it to understand it.
So the poem could be about that. Readers’ choice.
The picture was taken at the Roger’s Store Museum in Surry County. It is right across from what was my grandfather’s farm.