North Platte, Nebraska
My son built this whole thing: measured
every board, pounded every nail.
Did the trapdoors, windows, knocked out
a wall right where you’re standin to fit
the kitchen. Got so he just about lived
in this tree. Did his homework up here,
took meals, ran a cord from the porch
for a heater, even kept a pisspot and a shitter.
His mother fussed, but I warned her:
chain a dog to a leash and all you got
is a beast chewin leather. Let the same dog roam
and it’ll circle back home every time,
and that’s how it was with Brian.
My boy loved this tree and this tree kept him
busy. Taught him the eye for true,
the eye for level, the eye for inches.
Once you see the world that way
there aint no shakin it. Take these shims here.
That there’s four inches, that’s three,
that’s three and a quarter, that five, that’s five,
that’s four, and I can go on like that.
So could Brian before we lost him
to the war. Matter a fact he had the eye
twice as dialed as mine––could name it
down to an eighth, even a sixteenth.
More than once I called bullshit
and took out the ruler, but my boy
was always right, even when he saw it
from an odd angle. My wife says I got
an inflated sense of my own manhood
but I tell her I know ten inches
when I see ten inches. And she says,
Jim Tucker, if only you could see
how odd it looks from this angle.
Bet you never heard that one before.