Advice to a Nail

No pilot will go before you.

You simply drive straight in
to the dark. You may meet a longhorned beetle
but often as not, just wood so thick
you can’t cut it with a knife.

We will help you as much as we can, but
you must do this yourself.

Let our drumming move you
gracefully, with confidence,
straight in.

Never look back for assurance.
Any wavering bends you, and once bent
you are lost.

You will know when you get there.
Be strong. Hold tight.

—Sarah Bennett


I asked Sarah for a bio, and she wrote: “I spent my childhood skinning animals and learning bird songs, and I now live north of Boston, teaching 7th grade math & science, writing a few poems, building a few outbuildings, but mostly just wandering around the house and backyard not getting much done. I just turned 53.”

I’m pleased and honored that my odes to common tools have already prompted such a fine poem in response. (For a lighter response, be sure to check out Joan’s comment in the Claw Hammer thread.) Sarah’s comments have also helped spur the project forward, for which I’m grateful.