CAUGHT BY SURPRISE
Bags of manure are lying
like dead pigs all over the garden.
The cold dropped its hammer last night
flattening them to the ground
as it froze to black cement.
Volunteers are picking up inert
sea turtles. If they are washed
ashore in the daylight, they will
probably live. If they are night
jetsam, they will die before dawn.
The cold has caught us off guard,
the greens withered stiff with
frost, the leeks stuck in their
mounds, the cabbages hardened
to green rocks that will collapse.
We didn’t want winter this soon.
We damage the seas, we melt
glaciers, we cook the skies
but still weather shocks us
with storms that change our world.
THE UNFINISHED MASTERPIECE
My parents bought a swaybacked
summer cottage on a weedy lake
an hour out of Detroit–an area
now suburban tract houses.
My father began by installing plumbing–
a bathroom instead of an outhouse,
running water in the kitchen
instead of a pump, although
not being the cook, I loved
pumping water and having
it magically surge from under
ground, cold as winter on my hands.
But he never stopped. Until
the day they sold it, twenty-five
years later, it was a construction
site, walls torn down and rebuilt,
the roof replaced and shingled
again, porches coming and going.
In the kind of speeded-up photo-
graphy they use to show flowers
opening, this original shack
without real internal walls,
just partitions, would have grown
and shrunk again before your eyes,
madly tossing parts into the wind.
I hated going there, always banging,
wheelbarrows of wet cement. Pipes
and electric drills were the decorative
motif. I never understood: it was
like the electric train set he played
with in our basement, adding a village,
a bridge, a switchman with a lantern:
it was his toy, a place where he
was master instead of worker—
where what he imagined grew
solid under his knowing hands.
fiction poetry "fact" photography