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Rusty nails of varying lengths and thickness fill coffee can after coffee can on the dusty, worn work bench at the back of my grandfather’s garage. They’re joined by air and oil filters for cars sold twenty years ago, assorted PVC piping, 30 amp double-throw circuit breakers, stacks of Argosy and Field and Stream. There is no order, no system, no reason for this odd collection, yet here it is, the last of his legacy. As my father and I fill and re-fill the bed of our pickup with loads full of romex wire remnants, chicken fencing, steel shelving cut-offs, and stacks of leftover plywood, unloading each time at the scrap yard on the other side of town, grandpa’s garage empties, becomes an actual garage, for the first time in my life. Standing in the driveway, I reach down and pick up a rusty and bent c-clamp that fell out of the truck in the last haul. Why did he keep this? His basement was full of brand new tools, all neatly sorted and organized, yet for every project he always came out to the garage. I slip the small, time-worn tool into my jeans pocket and pull down the fiberglass garage door. There’s a hollow echo as it slams home.
I do what I can.
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