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Echoes of a Hardware Store

Impolite favourite Amy Barone's moving poetic tribute to her father

His strong hands endured all life’s stages.

They’re all I recognized on the day of final goodbyes.


With fingertips slightly callused, he didn’t have the hands

of a doctor or a lawyer or a corporate dad.

They were the hands of a hardware store merchant.


Such a bygone expression, but one I glimpsed on countless

old documents, as I took inventory of his material world.


He mastered the nuts and bolts of life: make lists,

pray before bed, be loyal to family, spend less than you earn.


He wasn’t mechanical or a fixer upper, but good with money,

more of a dreamer and childlike in his simplicity.


The massive storefront celebrated the seasons.

Gleaming red barbeque grills and green webbed lawn chairs in summer,


twinkling Christmas displays and brass fireplace sets in winter,

fertilizer in spring and rakes in fall.


We played with reverence in his workplace, listened for

his fast gait, which a monstrous illness eventually lassoed.


Traditions ebb; simple joys lose poignancy.

Some memories defy description.


How can I possibly put into words

the sensations that penetrate my heart


when I walk the freshly oiled floors of

an old-fashioned hardware store.

Amy Barone

About the Writer

Amy Barone’s new poetry collection, We Became Summer, from New York Quarterly Books, will be released in early 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing). Her poetry has appeared in Café Review, Gradiva, Paterson Literary Review, Sensitive Skin, and Standpoint (UK), among other publications and anthologies. She spent five years as Italian correspondent in Milan for Women's Wear Daily and Advertising Age. Barone participates at spoken-word events in New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia. She belongs to PEN America Center and the brevitas online poetry community that celebrates the short poem. A native of Bryn Mawr, PA, Barone lives in New York City.


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