Sierra Nevada: Cold Work Moment - Poem by Hans Ostrom
In a sense it's always winter
in this wooded county of our psyche,
where my father and I build a house,
the rest of the crew off drunk somewhere.
The contractor has taken blueprints
and a cash advance to Reno.
A white sky pays out
kernels of snow. My father saws.
I nail. Partitions take ghostly shape.
In the forest of our days, coyotes
eat bread crumbs we scattered
to find our way back to where we left for work.
We lift walls into iron wind,
and brace. Ropes of snot come out
of our noses. Sierra cold's meticulous.
It polishes our eyeballs like a monocled jeweler.
One junco, round as a musical note, lands on a board.
In this shift, we share a willed,
relentless push against work, which
is endless, more like Time than Time.
Our hands stick to metal we pick up.
Say in this work-moment that howling witches
fly down from glacial diorite Buttes.
Say maybe God leans closer or pivots away.
We're smaller than an echo of traveling geese.
I know my father in the white meadow of work.
Women have always been more sensible than men.
Up there on a ragged ridge a coyote yawns.
I feel as if we are the wages we are due.
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