I love to recover the quality
of things in decline.
To scour stone, scale paint from brick,
to compel, with wire brush,
the flourish wrought by iron.
To refinish wood, solving for
To give, by weeding our stone wall
back its dignity.
To left and right the borders of our lot,
to square the corners of our keep.
I have even dreamed: pushing a pushcart,
I stop anywhere and start
doing what needs to be done.
The first building takes time:
replacing windows, curing the roof.
I know compromises must be made
and make none, a floor at a time.
I work along an interstate
a century after Johnny Appleseed.
A modest people makes me chief.
(They, too, enjoy the hazy shine
of finished work by last light.)
Storm drains relieved, brick walks relaid,
a heritage of dust and wrappers
is renounced. The square square,
trim trim, the town for once
is like an artist's conception of the town.