the same chair

my father

It was the same chair where he sat fifteen years before, newly liberated from his job as a radar technician, and made himself simple tools—a cottage cheese lid cut into a circle and rigged with glass and a tiny mirror became a sextant; cardboard, string, a plastic straw, and a fishing weight became a quadrant. He had patience for this intricate work, but I don’t believe he ever did anything beyond finding latitude in his back yard and filling paper with sums. Maybe on the long sea voyages that took him away from us for two or three months at a time—once, six months—to the “Orient,” Australia, around South America. Maybe he was the sailor who left his bunk and looked at stars at night and wanted to know how to find his way, though by day he worked with radar systems, repairing them, fine-tuning them so the vessels were anything but dependent on celestial navigation. It would have made sense to have learned then, when he could perhaps have applied the knowledge to the dark skies near the Antipodes or approaching Madagascar. (from Euclid’s Orchard, forthcoming, Mother Tongue Publishing.)

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