Science Fair Project (for my grandfather)

Science Fair Project: How to anodize aluminum

Meet at 210 Charmuth Road,
to the house hidden in aging oaks.
Grab one carrot cookie and go
down creaky wooden basement steps,
pass the antique hair dryer chair,
the wood shop littered with hand cut toys,
down the dark and dusty hall,

There he waits.
Pans of chemicals set up and reflecting our
faces in their sheen.

Before I was born,
there were the late nights, the trials-
mistakes, creativity, mistakes.
Testing all the variables,
days passing to weeks, seasons dusty with neglect.
Did he ever doubt?

He didn’t.
Follow the patented instructions
he knows as
sure as he knows every anode,
every alloy, every wrinkle of the metal
and wait for the results.

As the aluminum changes in the bath
so does the light. The glow in the basement is
from years ago,
my memory of a middle school
science fair project.
My grandfather patient
while I strain to understand.
It is his life in the process.
It is our work there in the morning together
that changes the aluminum,
it is his blood in
that hard and durable, corrosion resistant, permanent coating.

I know I am older now, but is he?

He is that unbreakable spirit, that hard determination,
that iron will.

(RIP Chuck Burrows 10/25/08)

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