In the middle of last night, wind blew in a scattering of rainshowers. Without turning on any lights, I stood on the kitchen porch, amazed at the midnight balminess. The apple tree shed a few yellow leaves.

My teenager had left a screwgun on the deck, a piece of unfinished cleanup from putting up the storm windows. I lifted the heavy tool and held it in both hands, remembering when this girl was a baby and a screwgun like this one had fallen out of the back of our pickup. We’d loaned the screwgun to a relative in Montpelier, who must have merely slid the tool in the back of the truck. When I returned home, the case was missing.

With my baby in the truck cab beside me, I drove those miles back to the capital city, looking all along the road, but didn’t find the blue plastic box. I remember weeping over what was a very expensive tool for us then, and how badly I felt at its loss, caused by my own carelessness. That tool, in the early days of my husband’s carpentry business, meant so much to us then – or perhaps it was more the potential, the life ahead, that tool promised.

In the end, a neighbor found the screwgun and returned it to me.

Seventeen years later, how many thousands of dollars worth of tools have now passed through our hands, used hard, their finite lives consumed. I thought of all that with the gentle autumn rain falling, and how happy our neighbor was, returning to us what we considered our lost fortune.

Poverty’s child –
he starts to grind the rice,
and gazes at the moon.

– Bashō

garlic planting, Woodbury, Vermont

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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