by John Hicks
There are times in life when a man just needs a hardware store—a place I can admit I don’t know how to do something. It’s a place with a bell that jangles the front door open when I enter; where the grainy hardwood floor long ago forgot its finish; a place where a rolling “clomp” rises when I walk the aisles; and where every winter during inventory they vow to paint the walls come spring.
At home I say I’ll need a few parts—that I’ll be right back.
What I really want is to talk with a man who knows my project. He’s got a whittled pencil stub over one ear, safety glasses and notepad in his shirt pocket. He’s Randy, or Steve, or Gary, and has a tape measure on his belt and a jackknife in his pocket.
In the big box store, I have to buy candidate parts to try out—plus a plastic case of “assorted size” bushings, screws, bolts and washers, because I can’t measure what I need without opening the packages on the racks.
He knows where everything is; isn’t anxious to make a sale. He’ll listen to my task and take me to what I need—even advise on what I don’t know I’m going to need. He’ll mix my paint, measure and cut rope and chain, and knows the right washers and gaskets—even ring me up afterward with a final tip.
Because when I get home, what I want to hear is, “That didn’t take long.”
John Hicks is a narrative poet whose work has been published or accepted for publication by: Valparaiso Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Ekphrastic Review, Glint Literary Journal, Midnight Circus, Panorama, Mojave River Review, and others. He earned an MFA from The University of Nebraska – Omaha, and now writes in the high, thin air of northern New Mexico.