Saturday, November 1, 2008

After the Rebuilding

Philip Booth

After the rebuilding was done, and
the woodstove finally installed, after
the ripping-out of walls, tearing back to
its beams the house he'd lived in, frozen, for over
fifty years, he started mornings up with the world's
most expensive kindling. Not scraps of red oak from
new flooring, ends of clear birch from kitchen trim, and
knots from #2 pine, but oddlot pieces of his old life:
window frames clawed from his daughter's lost room,
his grandfather's coat peg, shelving his mother
had rolled her crust on, and lathing first plastered
the year Thoreau moved to Walden. The woodstove itself
was new: the prime heat for four new rooms descended
from seven, the central logic for all the opening up,
for revisions hammered out daily, weeks of roughing-in,
and after months of unfigured costs, the final bevels
and the long returning. Oh, when he first got up to
rekindle the fire of November mornings, he found
that everything held heat: he sweat as he tossed
the chunks in; he found himself burning, burning.

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