The scaffolding around the house never comes down. Permanent fixture. Part of the furniture. Apparently there’s no end to repairs. Last year’s leak over the stairs moved to the ceiling above the dining room, leaving decco-goth stripes running down the walls.
Shingles above the front door were no sooner replaced when the awning out back eloped with a 40 knot wind. Life in the fast lane. Always work to be done. At some point life becomes maintenance, writing a poem an adjustment, a small remodel where feelings and perceptions dwell. No work to be done by licensed contractors. No permits, and nothing subbed out. It’s a do-it-yourself daily project. Though you do draw the line at tarps.
Like blue tarp Buddha on the housepainter’s roof, tarp flapping in the wind, concrete sculpture inscrutable, calm as cement. Pretty soon, you can’t say when, it’s one of those things that just happens, you get used to it. We’re hard wired evolutionaries. You come to see scaffolding as part of the architecture. The neighbor’s tabby comes to see it as a catwalk. At Christmas you string it with lights. Housepainter’s blue tarp Buddha gets a Santa’s hat. You swear it cracks a smile though that may be concrete aging. Like so much of life, like anything really, it depends on how you look at it, how you brick and mortar the words as proof to catch up with a reality you like. Words as scaffolding to buttress the wall of opinion, drywall of belief.
So far, last year’s repairs over the piano are holding. Like a pantry stocked with canned goods — chowder and minestrone, baked beans and black olives (who the hell bought the tuna, you glance at your cat), you feel ready for dry rot and wind, rain and leaky pipes. Pestilence and plague.
Ignorance and arrogance.
Rejection and acceptance.
Future repairs of any and all nature destined to appear in your forecast.
Scaffolding grows on you. Grows on the house. Form follows function you tell yourself and soon it is true. True, it’s not how you drew it up, but neither is the Ducati in the living room. Neither is this poem. Cats are grateful for the scaffolding that never comes down, and neighbors eventually don’t care. Daily you go about the pages of your life, making an honest living doing small poem repairs, like a fisherman who mends their net before setting out each morning to see what they will find.
Guy Biederman’s work has appeared in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Flashback Fiction, Peeking Cat, Pretty Owl, Carve, Sea Letter, Bull, and other journals. He’s authored five books, including Edible Grace, KYSO FLASH, and Nova Nights, forthcoming this October from Nomadic Press. Guy lives on a houseboat 4 nautical miles west by northwest of San Francisco with his wife and salty tuxedo cat, and walks the planks daily. It’s all true, especially the fiction.