Poem: Splinters and All

Splinters and All

The work so far is rough.
Each board lapstraked on the other,
raw, unplanned, splinters everywhere,
harsh to the touch.

But still, even now, rough-hewn in,
you can see the shape, the lines,
the promise of what could be,
a lifetime of boatbuilding helps you see that promise.

Let the sun, hot and raw, dry the wood,
shrink in the dry light
exposing each crack and potential leak,
providing a path for caulking,
for finding and repairing the gashes and irregularities
found even in the best of boards.

It is work. It takes time.
But bearing with the rawness,
waiting patiently for each flaw to show itself
is part and parcel of making the craft seaworthy,
able to cut through storms and tides.

The beauty comes later.
Again with time: the planning, the sanding,
each stroke creating a smoothness
that parts the sea just that much easier.
Then paint of course, Partially for beauty,
partially for that last slick coating
to hold back the salt and barnacles.
The beauty too, is work.

You have done this before.
It is not your first craft to build or rebuild.
Your life after all is a history of shipwrecks.
The beauty comes later.
This is your mantra here at the beginning.
as you begin the work,
splinters and all.

About this poem.

It is often hard to see the end when we start. Harder still to believe in it. Oh, and it can be about boatbuilding as well.

The picture was taken at the boatyard at Mystic Seaport, in CT.

Tom

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