How Things Work

By: Cathy Sky


People would be surprised to know

I used to want to be a scientist.

Ask Mr. Wizard was my favorite TV show.


Don’t be like me,

Dad used to say, when we talked after supper

And he was working on his second Scotch.


Don’t marry early

Then you’ll have to work at whatever you get.

His eyes had a boardroom shadow.


He smoked Winston in a soft pack, often used

Mother’s cut glass candy dishes for his butts.

I thought it was an ashtray,

He’d explain, off-handed, with

A sly smile.


Phoebe got pregnant in our junior year at Chapel Hill.

Dogwood in bloom, she was soft

Her skin translucent.


We lay side by side in her single apartment bed

Windows open, someone’s car radio playing

The Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin.


We want to be together. Why not now?

She murmured, the small of her back

Beneath my palm.


I was only going to be a campus temp clerk

Till there was an opening for a lab assistant

Then my father-in-law plugged me in:

Tit job as a fund raiser.


I thought back then it would do for a start.

It was a thirty year start.


Aren’t you coming down?

My granddaughter, downstairs, shouts up to me,

You promised to help me fix my bike. She knows


I know how things work.



Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker