Smell of Sawdust

Some people seem to know themselves early on,
prepared to find their way through the maze.
I mostly wandered, following until a path ended,
retraced another route, asking questions,
picking up the few clues I was able to find.
I do know where I am now and who has been looking.
There’s comfort in that and some gravity
I shift and employ where there’s reason to help.
I meet the mapmaker from time to time,
enjoying our conversations, very simple and forgiving
about the way his information’s overlooked.
There’s the start and there’s the finish,
the navigation up to you.
Lots of people will sell you directions
but they’re like a subway guide to New York,
interesting but not much help if you choose to walk,
stay above ground where the sky still opens,
faces along the street more and more profound
as you age and understand their predicament.
Bring some kindness to it, the road’s not easy;
give what you can without losing yourself.
The best work is still like a sanded board,
rounded over and smooth to the touch.
You bring your hand and eye to the wood,
feeling your way along the grain,
the smell of sawdust sharp and pleasing.




18 Responses to “Smell of Sawdust”

  1. Taylor Goforth says:

    Love this Don! 🙂

  2. Lloyd Meeker says:

    “I do know where I am now and who has been looking.”

    And that, as Robert Frost once said about diverging paths, has made all the difference. I guess it doesn’t really matter how long that takes. It sure took a long time for me, too.

    I love the smell of sawdust as a metaphor for the hard work of process. It’s a wonderful smell.

    There was a carpentry shop just up the road from where I was born. As a boy I’d go in there sometimes. On a winter’s day, the men would move slowly and laugh once in a while, burn scraps and sawdust in a stove made from an oil barrel. It was the warmest place around.

    Thanks, Don. Beautiful work.

  3. T Johansson says:

    From the title on… exquisite! It helps to be a poet in this world where the beauty’s often hidden.

  4. I was happy to Tweet out and post a link on Facebook.

  5. Eleanor GillMilner says:

    This was a special part of the poem for me:

    “Bring some kindness to it, the road’s not easy;
    give what you can without losing yourself.”

    Good analogy with something that smells great.

  6. ron laws says:

    Causes my back to ach and my heart to sing – here we are

  7. Michael Cecil says:

    Such a well worded description of the journey.

    Thank you!

  8. wilder says:

    lovely…enjoyed that very much

  9. Frazer says:

    Beautiful Don, Touched my heart and adds warmth to my journey. Lloyd’s winter shop brings good memories too.

  10. bill dare says:

    Comforting words of Truth to this ol’ wood worker, Don.

  11. Navigational skills were a long time coming as I stumbled over my own sawdust for years. Never had a focus of what I wanted to do, 3-D like, no career, no clear vision, only fire inside for the divine. Looking back, I can see a continuity leading to myself. In the midst of my gratitude, I am amazed at how I was led to now…a classic case of “door closing, door opening”. All in all, I smoothed a lot of boards and here I am, still refining, clearing, accepting, sanding. But I know who is doing the work. A smile crosses my face as I am warmed from within.
    Thanks for this one.

  12. David Banner says:

    Whew! That says a whole lot in rich, potent images….

  13. Paul Blythe says:

    Yes, I too know that smell of sawdust, and steady hand must not be disturbed by a troubled heart. I enjoy faces and names of many “hewers of wood and drawers of water” on Facebook who may have misjudged the creative process. Yet, we are not discouraged because our saw hits a knot in the wood. I treasure my sense of our journeys and it’s not over yet! We can only let yourselves be inspired by project and those who will not quit. Thanks for your friendship, available to all.

  14. lfj gill says:

    Thanks for sending the link to your recent poem. I find the images resonating in my thoughts, hours after reading it this morning–the people’s faces on the street, the hand and eye experiencing the sanded wood, the way you found your way to the Master Craftsman/Map-maker–all permeated with the wisdom and compassion now flowing through your being as you walk and talk with Him–and your portrayal of His own compassion and patience with us funny kids–“very simple and forgiving/ about the way his information’s overlooked”. . .

  15. Maria Jimenez Frid says:

    I mostly wandered too, instructed early, on a strict religious path, I felt confined and confused; dogma fighting with my deeper instincts. Hard business letting go of structures that have been heavily pounded in when one is tender and open by unknowing map makers. At the same time a whispering Artist resided, speaking quietly at first, speaking louder along the way until I heard. Thanks, again, Don for this beautiful meditation that speaks of our journey.

  16. Kaia says:

    Lovely…. I can smell the sawdust from here. 🙂

  17. Pat Fitzsimmons says:

    A powerful, poetic journey. Thanks Don!

  18. Andrew Shier says:

    “give what you can without losing yourself.” It is our nature to give and to bless. How to do this without letting the reservoir run dry, is the great art for me. That one sentence contains so much insight and compassion. thanks Don.

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