I stood and watched him hit the nail
Each strike precise as a marksman’s shot,
He’d take my hand, his rough leathery skin
Guide my trembling fingers.
He’d drum, drum, drum along a stud wall,
Hearing changing note he’d nod
I’d drive the nail home.
I’d smile, he’d say:
Carry on now.
I’d never master that sound.
He was like a harpist tuning fine strings,
His ear caught every note
While I stood driving nails in air.
These days, his thumb nails blackened,
His fingers tremble holding a delft cup.
⏩ Frankie Quinn is a former republican prisoner who is now a community activist. He is the author of Open Gates, a book of poetry.