To enter the shop is to enter the acolytes’ chamberand I take the table saw as seriously as god,and know that inside every rough sawn plank there livessome version of the devil, a deviation
from the path laid out boldly on the board,the pencil’s dark pressed deep into the grainsuch that a small channel has been crushedinto the wood, a reminder to live as closely
to the truth as one is able, eventhough truth is what will take your fingers,or send slivers deep into your hands.When I come home after it all,
and strip down to my thinnest self, my clothes, theydo not forget; they wait and wait on the hookthat holds them; I walk awayand still they keep my shape. [End Page 360]
Matthew Nienow holds an M.F.A. from the University of Washington and a degree in Traditional Small Craft from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crazyhorse, Poetry, Best New Poets (2007 and 2012), and in previous issues of NER. A 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow, Nienow has also received awards and fellowships from the NEA, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Artist Trust of Washington, and many other organizations. He lives with his wife and two sons in Port Townsend, Washington.