Whatever memory resists
must be broken down by caustic goo
that uses its serrated, alkaline teeth
before consuming veneer.
Whatever finish remains
must be sanded, prodded,
urged away with a scraper, putty knife, fingernail
then stripped again,
harsh ganache spread across the last
of the shellac.
Only then can steel wool dull and devour
what we thought was shine,
patina’s old patterns—
time told by a Roman numeral clock,
grades given in a manila envelope,
even a kiss before some spoke of dying.
Down to bare wood,
grain opens its many mouths
to swallow new stain,
reveal that gnawing relief
before restoration begins.
Nancy Devine lives in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she taught high school English for over 25 years. Her poetry, short fiction and essays have appeared in online and print journals. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, “The Dreamed,” published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.