A Father’s Shovel – Frank Babcock

I have a reservation upon death
At the Greenberry Tavern
As a fly on the wall.
Listening to my sons tell stories
About my shovel.
I want to hear the warm laughter
As they describe my relationship
With this sacred implement:
How my hands fit perfectly
Around the wooden handle
And how the tool seemed to sense
what I wanted when I  put it in the soil.
I want to hear them bragging
About where it has been,
About how much gravel it moved
Out of the old 67 Ford F100,
About the rolls of sod it cut,
How many garden beds it spaded.

It will warm my fly heart to hear
The stories from their youth
About the importance of shovel
And what it can accomplish.
One of them needs to mention
The angle of the wooden handle,
How it is bent just right
Where it fits in the metal,
Creating an easy scoop
Without bending over too much.

I will buzz in another’s ear
And remind them to recall
The shovel toward the end,
Where the point was worn to a curve
In the opposite direction.
The sons might speak about the tool
As a brother, as an extension
Of our body of work together.

Boys, bury me with my spade
And then retire it to the barrel
Behind the shed
Where all good implements go.

Frank BabcockFrank Babcock lives in Corvallis, Oregon and is a retired middle school teacher and owner of Marys Peak Bamboo, a bamboo nursery that promotes the use of bamboo in landscape. He is 64 years old currently, having lived in the Northwest for near 40 years. He did major in creative writing many moons ago and has continued an interest in poetry all of his adulthood. He gets his inspiration from people and imagery around him and places and activities that he is involved with. He is married, the father of many, and is currently enjoying eleven grandchildren.