Learning a Trade
by Ralph La Rosa

At ten years old, I learned the art
of stripping down a well-worn chair
awaiting its recovery
at Joseph’s Furniture Repair.

I loved to tear off tufts and yards
of braid and fabric, yank out mesh
and tacks, and bare the chairs to bones,
frames my father would refresh.

In my search for hidden treasures,
I’d peel away a Naugahyde,
brocade or satin, rip out springs
and webbing, finding deep inside

old glasses, watches, pencils, coins,
photos, jewels, and wedding bands—
dry remnants of their owners’ lives,
recovered stories in my hands.