The Carpenter's Song
by Stephen Dunn

When I'm no longer young
let me be able to make wine
from chokecherries and care enough
to let it age. And when friends come
let them sip it
in a torn-out car seat under a tree.
And let my house smell of books
and pipe smoke, and let its disarray
be the luxury of a man
who makes cabinets.
And after it gets dark
let's move to the room
where the squeeze-box is, sing songs
and talk of Iceland by freighter,
Newfoundland on a whim, all the arrivals
one doesn't plan.
And let the evidence be deep
in my voice, the lines of my face.
And let me call this: style.

Let me rebuild then the lighthouse
my father rebuilt years ago,
and let me know the history
of old houses haunted by rats
and shadows, good people
and bad, and when asked
let me sense what can be redeemed
and what can't.
And yes, let me be able to say
I'm a builder of houses, a man
who works slow and knows
how hard it is
to get the inside just right.
And let my metaphors grow
from that, something lived stretching out
trying to make contact
with something else.
And let me call this: my work.

And when I'm no longer young
let there be poets in my life,
their words aftertastes on the tongue,
and let me speak those words like a man
who has heard a spar snap on a ship,
who has been lost once or twice
and come back.
And let me declare
I've been a lover of women
without declaring it, and feel
I've treated them better than wood,
knowing I've been a husband of wood,
have cared for it with my own hands.
And let my hads be thick
badges of power
rarely used, my fist an inner fist
the size of a heart,
and let this be visible to men.
And let the old deaf dog
sense me coming a long way off,
ready to forgive anything I've done—
and let me call all this: some goddamn luck.