Bio Note: I’ve worked 40 years in the building trades, mostly on the California coast where I live. Once or twice a year I stay at a cabin in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. How you build for Adirondack winters is so different that I had to learn from a new base of wisdom. They don’t have termites. They have frost four feet deep. They don’t worry about earthquakes (though they should). The locals at the lumberyard, the hardware store are happy to share their tips in exchange for my stories of how we crazy hippies do it on the other side of the continent. Construction is a universal language with local dialects. Accidents, too.
Or They Will Destroy
You must learn the appetite of insects, the temper of trees, the sex life of local fungus. Or they will destroy. Know the weight of snow, the force of frost, the habits of stone. Discover the teeming life of soil, the chemistry, the perfume of local air. Or they will destroy. Builder, talk to people. Customs are the accumulated wisdom of a place. Respect the soul of these folk, this land. Or they will destroy you as they should.
The Moment After
Numb from the crawl space, weight of wrenches, suck of mud, the cruel finger-scrape of crusty pipe, I open the gas-cock, dimly aware of a hoo-oo-ooting sound as wearily, stupidly to relight the pilot I strike a spark and WHOOSH a comet of fire slams me to a wall. Scrambling on hand and knee for an endless instant, I shut the cock. The moment after in stillness, my right arm is smoking. The moment after from my sizzled beard, the scent of singed hair. The moment after from my lip, the taste of ash. The moment after chains of blood throb my heart. Before pain can muster (and muster it shall), in the moment after I have senses, spirit. The soul burns, my love, blessed to the quick.
©2020 Joe Cottonwood
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