Elizabeth Claire Rose, Village Music (hand-colored intaglio print)

Pitch pines,
               sap suckers,
turkey oaks,
               tit mice,
surround, surround
               this man working,
leaning left
               on his ladder, right
foot a toe-
as he goes to roof
               his girl’s playhouse.
This man knows
               to number, to name,
accounting a means
               of first strike.
So…sweet birch,
               borer bees,
sedge wren,
               robins, robins,
whorish robins,
               willing to roost
on his shoulder
               should he let them.      
He swears he feels
               a hard stare
as he screws down
               the starter strip
on this simple grey
               gable roof,
no valleys,
               no hips,
just one pair
               of pitch planes.
He works right
               and uphill for hours
until it’s time
               to tar shingles
to buckling flange.
               He hates the black
ooze glue
               that grabs fast
as handcuffs,
               that could hold-drown
a saber-tooth
               in a tar pit.
Cicadas sing,
               twining their timbres
so loud
               some thoughts
can’t think
               so he climbs
to the ridge top
               and straddles tall.
Fists clench,
               then unclench,  
decision made,
               decided against.
And then, she’s there.     
               Through the cedar
limbs he glimpses
               the girl glaring,
sitting cross-
               legged, leaning
over her notebook,
               always note-
               and staring straight
at him, at his
               eyes as if she
sees nothing,
               no one.


Charlotte Pence