Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer Carpentry



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Summer Carpentry

Sometimes when Sierra sun baked
and bleached a new house's skeleton,
I'd stand on a plywood sub-floor, jeans
sweat-drenched, forearm fatigued from
hammering all day, and look up at
an immobile mountain greened with
manzanita, fir, oak, and pine, and know
something secretly but not sadly.

We'd built that thing, frame of dwelling.
Wages came, sun lavished light, mountains
mimed illusion of permanence. Everything,
everything changes always and everywhere.
This isn't news but you can come to it
newly after a long's days work with wood.

And the Old Man said, "Hans, time to pick
up the tools," and it was 4:00 p.m. that one
day once in all of time, and somebody wanted
a house by the river. A canyon-breeze caught
sweet odor of sawdust. I stopped staring,
came back to tasks, reached for a saw,
a plumb-bob, a level; moved in and with the
changes. Newly nailed partitions cast shadows.


Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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