My Father’s Telescope by Rita Dove


The oldest joke

in the world,

a chair on three legs


Sawdust kicks

up, swirls

around his boots


and settles

in the cuffs of his

pants. The saw is


as nervous as

a parrot.

The chair


shrinks. After

years of cupboards

and end tables, after


a plywood Santa

and seven elves

for the lawn in the snow,

he knows.

He’s failed, and

in oak.


Next Christmas

he buys himself

and his son


a telescope.

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