I grew up in Maryland, bonded Appalachian, then moved west and stayed. I've worked in the building trades most of my life: carpenter, plumber, electrician. Also a writer all my life, a dozen books, mostly novels. I live with my high school sweetheart in the house we built in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. joecottonwood.com
Mrs. Blattner’s Window
An eleven-hour day replacing Mrs. Blattner’s
kitchen window with a nicer one, wood frame,
multi-pane. She wonders, musing, how to wash it.
“Like you would any window,” I say.
“I wouldn’t,” she says. “I hire that kind of help.”
I clean up my mess, sweep the sawdust,
step on a nail in a board I’d dropped.
Ow! I’m hopping. Dancing.
“Sweep again,” she demands. There’s yellow dust.
Not sawdust. Scent of pollen, lilies on the table.
My sock is squishy, sodden.
Okay, extra sweeping, done.
But the bill is forty-eight dollars too much, she says.
A misunderstanding. I hold firm.
With a shoe full of blood I’m not discounting for a lady
who can’t wash a window or see the difference
between lily-sperm and sawdust.
Not her fault, though, the nail.
I shouldn’t wear jogging shoes, soft soles.
Sometimes you do a good job and leave feeling bad.
Next day Doctor Jenks, who has nine fingers,
peers sadly over low-riding spectacles,
suspects a punctured plantar fascia, bruised metatarsal,
plunges a tetanus needle into my butt, and says
“Don’t go dancing for a day or two.”
The shot costs forty dollars.
On the way home at a garage sale I chance upon
some steel-toed boots just my size
plus a flannel shirt all for two bucks,
a hundred dollars worth of merchandise.
In this scruffy life, karma settles like sawdust,
pours like pollen, not by chance.
Brooms and squeegees — use them.
© 2018 Joe Cottonwood
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