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Tool Parts Chest

By Frank Sisco
Copyright 2000 Frank Sisco
A poem about the writer trying to organize one part of his life to make up for his grandmother's failing health which he cannot control.


Seeing Nonnie like that.
The rush of scenes up and down the years,
makes me dizzy.

After seeing her,
bought the chest for twelve ninety eight
at Home Depot tonight
Two bread boxes big.

Black metal sides, rectangular shape
holding forty
neat clear plastic drawers,
deep with stops to let them lay angled
when opened.

Pull drawers out, put in nails,
screws, nuts, and stuff
sorted by type and size
so my wife and I
can get to them more easily
saving time when they are needed.

Two and a half hours tonight
sorting out the mess accumulated
Pouring boxes of mixed mess
onto cardboard

Picking out small metal things,
gathering them in my palm,
then putting them into their drawers,
designated by me with
post-it strips on which I
hand-print headings.
Finishing nails - small, finishing nails - long,
wood screws - countersunk, wood screws - round head,
machine screws - small, machine screws - large
nuts, bolts, nuts and bolts
on and on,
Sorting, labeling, putting.

Mom's been caring for her big-time
Dad's depressed by her dementia
which grows over the monitor
in the living room
picking up her voice on the other
side of the wall.

Finished. Organized. Done.
Too bad too late.
Few times I do handyman tasks now.

Will try to see her tomorrow morning.
She didn't remember me yesterday
twenty minutes after I left.

Should have spent more mornings
with her when before she lost so much
of her mind.
Should have had more mornings of
coffee and home fries,
listening to her stories,
hearing her sing old songs
she handwrote on
the wide-ruled white pages of the
black-marbled composition book holding
her past.
Sing them to me Nonnie,
I'm ready now.
I'm listening now.