My Father’s Telescope by Rita Dove

collected-poems-rita-dove

The oldest joke

in the world,

a chair on three legs

 

Sawdust kicks

up, swirls

around his boots

 

and settles

in the cuffs of his

pants. The saw is

 

as nervous as

a parrot.

The chair

 

shrinks. After

years of cupboards

and end tables, after

 

a plywood Santa

and seven elves

for the lawn in the snow,

he knows.

He’s failed, and

in oak.

 

Next Christmas

he buys himself

and his son

 

a telescope.

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