Learning to Weld


Something should have sparked before
the torch touched the metal. Wrong
shoes, wrong shirt, wrong pants. Who
expected to be let loose so suddenly;
yet, the quiver and tremble of hands
on thick handles, making the first cut

all worth the worn gloves, dirty
apron. I didn’t even think to wonder
whose sweat had been in the welding
helmet before I lowered the mask
over my face. It was all pure joy
and it didn’t matter if I made a thing,

a project, a piece of something to own,
take home, display and say, “I did that.”
It was enough to take each tool in hand,
maneuver and affix one piece of something
hard and distinct to something totally
unrelated and discarded. There wasn’t

one thing that didn’t belong, nothing
of scrap or discard or worthlessness
in the rusted piles—pried off horseshoes,
gates that held nothing out and let
everything in. Sparks flew through
air and over bare arms, into crevices,
onto the solid earth beneath my feet

that is molten core at the center. I
played with metal that melts under
heat; cut through piece after piece
and welded one thing to another
as though I had a plan, an idea, a goal,
as though any of the pieces of my life

had connected in certain identifiable
completion. I am welded together,
sloppy and haphazard. The heat of
any moment, any tragic or ill-reasoned
event throwing sparks, leaving scarred
fingertips when I picked up fiery pieces
cut away, ground down. But I learned
to weld a chainsaw blade to nuts and
bolts and spiral coil, attaching random
pieces in no particular pattern, clamping,
positioning, unsteady hands plasma-carving
initials out of something hard and resistant.

Rina Terry