Patty Playpal wore my pajamas
tiny Betsy McCall bent her
jointed knees and prayed.
Dad built a wall of shelves for my dolls.
His job was building cabinets
in a mobile home factory.

The garage was Dad’s place
pungent smell of fresh cuts of wood
piles of saw dust, the
bang! bang! bang! of his hammer
buzz and whirr of the table saw
hum of the paint compressor.

He was gone before the sun rose.
In the evenings, dressed in
heavy Sears work clothes
he lifted me up, placed my small feet
on paint splattered work shoes.
We walked clumsily into the living room
plopped on the sofa and read the funnies.
He smelled of sawdust, sweat, a hint of Old Spice.
I was proud of my dad’s thumbs.
He had the biggest, fattest thumbs
of any dad I knew because of all the times
he accidentally hit them with a hammer.
He was a stoic man, winced and stiffened
when we gave him a hug.

I remember his strength and grace
with a hand saw or plane, how deftly
he hammered a nail, how proudly
he brought each cabinet
to a shining, lacquered finish.