My father’s birthday,
a sunny October morning,
he would know the name
of all the birds I hear singing.
He knew the kinds of horses
too, having raised them.
And the names of all the apples,
if a peach was freestone or cling.
I wish I had acquired some
of his knowledge,
but it seems I did not.
Although toward the end
he taught me to hold a peach
under warm running water to peel it,
and then gave me the pocket knife
he used to do the job, saying,
“Uncle Jim gave me that knife,”
the way he knew the provenance
of all his possessions, the exact place
where everything was kept.
I did acquire that trait,
both inborn and learned.
A place for everything
and everything in it. I pride
myself on caring for my possessions
but when I heard that quote,
“No one pays you to care for your tools,”
I always thought of him.
His spit-shined Wingtips,
their toes taut from shoe trees,
resoled and made to last for decades.
The perfectly pressed suit
his brother gave him,
that he said he could
be buried in.