The making of this poem took a very long time. I did not write about my father's death for almost twenty years.
I was always interested in my father's tools, especially his level, which now is mine. It is big and heavy, and over seventy years old. To barely move it is to disrupt equilibrium.
So much of working with poetry makes me think of his work: cuts of wood measured in the millimeters,
as with lines breaking, and the framed drafts of houses he built where I would step through walls, imagining finished rooms. Derived from the Italian, the word stanza means "room" or "standing place."
Stanza: a made frame wherein with syllables and sound we build interiors of time and space.
"Holed up" configures a series of spaces that are utterly ordinary and yet uncanny. This doubleness is what drew the writing onward to the connectedness between the space of air inside the level and the breath the body takes in and out, until its last. No space can name what is "holed up" just as no words can name what it is to take in and release the last breath.
I worked with sound, syllabics, and rising and falling syllables. The last line aligns a pyrrhic foot with an iamb, the body's motion and sound of exhalation and inhalation. I am grateful for the quiet formal tone of "wherein" which suggests a doubleness of origin, and also its parallelism with "wherefore" which moved the poem to a quiet, and unforeseen, closure.