So they set the scream of the saw
into the old floor, pried out
the severed planks, releasing
into the torn house the dank
smell of dirt and mice.

Then the one with the swagger
and the tool belt slung low
on his hips slipped through the opening
to call the measure of beams
and posts to the older two
squatting camp-style above him

as if without understanding
how the floor could sink like that
without cracking the walls
they couldn’t begin to fix it,
so took the point of this
and argued the level for that

until it seemed to me the air
beyond the kitchen door
bloomed with light, and an old Ford
idled at the edge of a clearing
near piles of planks and beams

scavenged from houses torn down
after the war, when the world
returned imperfectly to itself,
and making do was a virtue,
and patching over a necessity.
Twine marked the rows

where a young man in muddied bibs
paced the footings in spring soil.
A man for whom the only explosions
remaining were birdsong
rocketing down from the maples,
and the only fire leapt
in the tips of blood-red stems.



Dianne Stepp

About Dianne Stepp

Born and raised in Portland, Dianne studied first at Portland State, later Antioch University and later still in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Willow Springs, Comstock Review, Clackamas Review, Calyx and Portland Lights. A chapbook, “Half-Moon of Clay” was published by Finishing Line Press. Dianne lives with her husband in southwest Portland on a lush over-sized lot where they raise hens and grow bountiful crops of garlic, beets, spinach, cabbages, figs and more besides.
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