I’m a retired carpenter/contractor, a retired novelist, and a full-time poet in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. My most recent book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.
She’s about your age you guess,
leaning over a triple sink,
sleeves rolled up in a baggy sweatshirt,
elbow-deep in soapy water
washing ninety-three soup bowls
(she counts, you learn) in the camp kitchen
when you deliver a load of maple firewood
in Pop’s wheezer Chevy truck.
She’s one of the camp kids, city kids,
they make them wash dishes as punishment
but what could she do wrong?
Her hair is a swirl on top
like black soft-serve ice cream
with one lock loose over the forehead.
She reaches in rubber gloves for a can
of Comet cleanser on a shelf over the sink
(stretching, exposing belly, unaware)
when she sees you and tries to push
the straggle of hair from her face
leaving little bubbles among the freckles.
Her teeth are straighter than yours.
Sparkle eyes, green, and she says,
“You want a potato chip?”
How it begins.
© 2018 Joe Cottonwood
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