by Lisa Richter

for Kate Braid, poet & journeywoman carpenter

Rank with sweat, hard-hatted
in the trenches where men before you
have slipped and stuttered, you build the molds
that retain words or cement, construct
foundations. With your gloved hands
you split the earth’s stone lip, heavy heel

on the shovel, grunt as it slides in
like the sound of a poem cleaving
when the heart is attuned to the breath.
However briefly, I’ve known the pleasures
of drill bit, sander and welding torch,

loved the honest thud and drape
of a drop cloth over furniture before
the paint can’s pried open, generous
creak of ladder rung, snug tightening
of zip tie and bolt, the reassurance

of gravity in the face of what’s
weightless. A match strikes, and the clay
figures we’ve fashioned in our own image
begin to tingle in anticipation of movement
once the final coat of paint’s applied.

No matter what, this act of making
must go on. Let this winter morning sink
its newly whittled fangs into my hide
as I raise my coffee mug like a chalice
to my lips. Let me warm up this unploughed
ground, watch as words encroach

on white space. Somewhere, you are
slinging your hammer, scribbling notes
in your head, showing me how it’s done.

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 1