Rebuilding My Grandfather's House
In the ashes I search for a nail straight enough
to be hammered. (Oh, for a trove of new nails spilling
out of its box like gold coins, silver
earrings, a handful of diamonds discovered
among the debris of my grandfather's house.)
As soon as I find it
I pound with conviction but no skill.
I hold up my battered blue thumb to the sky
and I curse as magnificently
as my grandfather ever did.
Tears streak my dirty cheeks. Each day I quit
and each day I start over again,
using patience I hardly knew I had inherited.
I swear by the toil of my clumsy hands
I will make of this junk-pile a dwelling place yet.
I work best when I take my time,
coaxing woolly worms into a tin can
and letting them go again, dreaming
the night sky unfolds like a blueprint I learn
to read. I dance by the light of the moon
and feel lonely, already at home here.
When I hammer the last nail straight
into the last sagging beam, I will
spit on the edge of my shirt and sit down
on a barrel to scrub my face clean.
I will not look my Sunday-best,
but I cannot wait forever.
The hinges will creak as I open the front door
and call out my grandfather's name.
In the silence that answers, I step
slowly over the threshold,
believing that each board supports me.
I stand in my grandfather's house again.