Under this knuckle scrape sky the moisture of breath polished rock my inches away face: the coolest, closest ground dirt ancestry permeations onion skin rag rubbed: two months on just this ceiling alone so far: rough mortar, patience, point by tuckpoint restored: this, she says, my second castle, six years in. Be careful on the stairwell, she says: wall balance feel yourself up, arms like scaffolding guiding you: four months ago an old man with his wife uneven flights shadow slipped fell bruised and dazed, dazed and bruised until they apologized and I apologized and they drove off. I once London child-parent lived, she says: I once around the world leaped costumed ecstasy: I once lived for thirteen years with a man who did not drink enough. I chose thatching and stone a wolfhound that hiplevel follows me even in winter draughts to windowless draughts. The roof will be finished someday: for now on the third floor I grow potted herbs and blackberry summer night skies and open drops to grove tree farm fields below. The first from seeing it to letting it go: over a decade: this could be more, could be less, she says. It does not matter to me. Who can name treasures? This tapestry bed I sleep in. These sheep tallow candles I burn. This mirror leaning again the wall shows me where I am. Moon calloused knobbed feet. Packing and leaving. The next arrival. Or just briefly filling a space.
John Walser is an associate professor of English at Marian University. He co-founded the Foot of the Lake Poetry Collective. His poems have appeared in a number of journals, including Barrow Street, Nimrod, Evansville Review, Baltimore Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Naugatuck River Review, Fourth River and Hiram Poetry Review. A semi-finalist for the 2013 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, he is currently working on three manuscripts of poems.