When I was seven,
my father bought me an airplane kit,
something to put together
with glue and guile
and instructions translated directly
from the Korean.
He did not help me in any way.
And I proved useless at the task,
would have set fire to the little
had I been allowed to play with matches.
There are other projects,
but they all amounted to the same thing.
My hand and my eye
were as Sanskrit is to the Ford Edsel.
So I grew up
surrounded by piles
of shapes and images,
and the encouraging cry of,
“Go for it, kid.”
That’s why I sat in the corner
building things that always fell apart,
falling apart the more
with each passing year
while I struggled to patch here,
hammer a nail there,
employ the tools
whose use I never understood.
Luckily, somewhere along the line,
I was able to set aside objects
and take up with words.
Sure, the sentences I constructed
were no more stable
than my cars, my castles,
my Lego giraffe.
But, as long as it was down on paper,
a Ford Edsel really was Sanskrit.
It got so not even I knew the difference.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.