My grandfather’s brace and bit
wasn’t very useful. Leftover
from the days of sail, it was
a country carpenter’s tool.
To countersink a screw
or drill a pilot hole
you had to put your shoulder into it
and often clear the ratchet and the pawl.
But the bits! The bits had heft and soul.
He had a rack of them like rebel soldiers
just back from building pinewood boats
to carry Jackson’s army across the flood.
Long shank and tapered tang
and a ribboned twist for cutting,
they were like the devil’s hoof to sharpen–
and could open a finger lengthwise too.