Saturday, April 29, 2023

May 2023


My dad, an apprentice in Puebla...

Sometime around 1970
My father discovered gemstones.
His job involved lots of
Road travel in Texas and
He rejoiced in all his finds,
Whether roadside or
Local rockhound shops
That he found dotted around
His wide-ranging territory.
He built himself
A little backyard shed
Under a big pecan tree,
But he added air-conditioning, of course…
This was San Antonio, after all.

He equipped his shed
With polishing equipment
And cutting equipment
And produced mounds
Of beautiful shiny ovals
Ready to be mounted
In pendants, or rings,
Or belt buckles, or bolo ties.
He learned a lot from asking others
And from the library…
Eventually, he decided
He wanted to learn how to set
His own stones. He wanted
To learn silversmithing.

Now, Mexico has oodles
Of talented silversmiths,
And Puebla is perhaps
The largest concentration of them.
So my mum, who spoke fluent Spanish,
Found a silversmithing place
In Puebla who agreed to take
My dad on as an unofficial apprentice.
Did I mention that this dad of mine
Spoke almost no Spanish???
Anyhow off my parents went
For two weeks in Puebla,
Where my mum would drop
My dad off each morning, then
Return at lunchtime, and again
At end of day.
During the day my dad would
Follow example instructions
And when my mum came
She would translate for
Both my dad and his teachers.
Seems the Puebla guys
Loved my dad…
Not a surprise, he was
Infinitely lovable.

He learned loads and returned
Back home and work.
On the weekends at home, he loved
His time in his shed.
The next year they did
Another fortnight in Puebla.
This time he learned
About casting and added
A centrifugal casting machine
To his shed’s equipment.
Seems dentists use the same machines.
He loved casting and he started
Branching out into some
More designer-type options…
Some which I still wear
With joy and pride.

When my dad passed
My mum sold most of his
Remaining gemstones
And gave me a cool collection
Of what was left.
You see some of them here,
In an African stone bowl
With a carved turtle that guards
The bright shiny treasures…
He’s always happy
When I stop by and
Run my fingers through them…
And remember my daddy.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course