Worn floorboards creak
in every old hardware store.
Each is familiar even
on first visit when I know
before seeing every stacked shelf
filled with a bevy of screws,
door handles, metal thingamajigs,
rubber boots and gloves assembled
near furniture polish and mops
close to orange chain saws.
Toward the back, paint cans perch
in tightly packed rows
next to brushes and color charts
glowing under fluorescent
fixtures too high for dusting.
In one corner stand sturdy shovels
for dirt or snow and to my left
among kitchen utensils
hangs the cake tester I’ve been seeking
for three months plus paper baking
cups with red hearts
like the ones in magazine photos.
Nearby sits a small iron skillet
hard to ignore and so useful
to sauté garlic someday after planting
grass seed from aisle six and fixing
the sink with chrome parts in aisle ten.
Big barrels of nails don’t block access
to the counter anymore and cash
registers don’t clink when opened,
but there’s the smell of oil and wood
in a place where people still know how
to repair household drips and cracks
and measure within a micron, which beats
plunger-over-clog any steel-clad megamart
where I could get lost without a map.
© by Susan T. Moss.
Used with the author’s permission.