Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Wooden Peg

Thomas D. Reynolds


My father tore out the dining room wall
of their centuries old home,
marveling at square nails,
crude oak beams, and mouse droppings.
But what really fascinated him
was an odd item resting above the door frame,
placed by accident or design, who knows.
A small leather pouch with two loops
from which a hand-carved wooden peg was sheathed.
The ancient leather had cracked and hardened
rigid as turtle shell or elephant tusk.

For weeks afterward,
he would turn it over in his hands,
shaking his head in perplexity,
priming visitors for feedback.
Was it some sort of Native-American instrument,
part of a primitive animal trap?
Was it merely some random object
placed there by the builder to frustrate
those who would modify his creation?

Though silent, I voted for the latter,
but his passionate curiousity was heartening,
for I realized that all of our lives
these odd discoveries had been revealed,
seemingly without his awareness or interest,
when one of his many walls was breached,
and before they had the chance to sheetrock,
to break out panelling or wallpaper,
some bewildering quirk or maddening grudge,
some unprovoked bit of obsessive meanness,
would be revealed, maybe the first of many times,
and we would be left wondering.

What distant civilization or wildness,
what seething family incident or renegade gene,
set this peg on that high dusty beam?
Was it only some joke by the builder?

Maybe he puzzled over it and we were unaware,
turning it over in his hand again and again,
that small wooden peg.

***

Thomas D. Reynolds teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Potpourri, Ariga, Strange Horizons, Combat, American Western Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Ash Canyon Review, and Orphan Leaf Review.

© Thomas D. Reynolds

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012