We called him Grandpa Joe, the gnarled old man
who helped build all the houses on the block.
At eighty when a saw sliced through his hand,
he wrapped it in a towel and finished work.
Each Christmas, we would bring him little gifts,
and he would have us come in for a drink.
He’d even hand out glasses to the kids.
My Mom would frown. My Dad would grin and wink.
His home-made wine was orange and burned the throat.
It seemed to taste of nails or splintered wood.
I felt grown-up drinking something that hurt,
a sample of the world of work and wounds,
but it was years before I understood
the making and the sharing made it good.
Joe Mills teaches at the North Carolina School of the Arts. With his wife Danielle Tarmey, he co-wrote A Guide to North Carolina’s Wineries (John F. Blair, Inc). In April 2008, Press 53 will publish his second collection of poetry, Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers.
Read more: Joseph Robert Mills