Cute, blond, plucky, oh so lucky,
an early employee of Facebook,
Cori hires me to build a house of glass
with a grand deck for sunsets, fine wine
on this hilltop first settled by the gold miner,
hardscrabble, hairy (see this old photo?)
not so lucky. Long gone.
We scrape the squalid cabin but
Cori asks me to restore the barn,
boards bleached as sunshine does,
silver-gray with fuzz. “Like you,”
she says with charming dimple.
At this barn beside a sapling redwood
the San Gregorio stagecoach would stop
twice each day while horses, sweaty,
took water from this spring
(like me, I might say).
Timbers hewn by hand, by broadax
(see the strokes?) now sag.
Square nails rust. Moss covers the roof
except where goats ate shingles.
Walls lean downhill until stopped,
braced for the next millennia
by the Sequoia sempervirens
feeding on sourdough bone
(see the tumbled tombstone?).
Old miner, too early
Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.
Painting by Albert Bierstadt.