156. Porch Hole

“Come see
What your daddy did!” Riah’s
Eyes danced:
Clever Tom had
Dovetailed several boards,
Each too short,
To patch up that
Hole in their porch floor.
Four boards: best of
Each. Porch board
Must be firm. Fit
Snug–or else
You’d drop through it
When you’d least

James appeared. “Hey,
Daddy!” Hole was gone!
“Whoo!” James yelled,
Relieved. He was sure
That he’d seen snakes
Down there–he dropped
To his knees, by Tom.
Tom had sawed and
Whittled at each board,
Till all four joined
Tight as puzzle pieces,
Perfect, solved.
James could tell fine
Knife-work when he saw it:
“I’ll be darned!”–
Ventured this mild
Swearing. No one
Frowned. He rubbed at
The surface–not a splinter.
Felt no roughness–
“Sanded!” Thomas

After they had
Analyzed, observed it,
Riah left them
Out there to admire.
She walked back
Inside, but happily:
How different,
Today! The porch,

At the window,
She leaned on the sill.
Stared out with
Satisfaction. And with
Spite she sent out
To the land: hey, not
Like you! This porch,
Mended! We’d
Repaired it.
It’s not all-time
Ruined, like this field!
But the field gazed
Back at her, unseeing.
Bare dunes rippled
Blandly, scathed by
Breeze. Rocking
By, two tumbleweeds.

In an instant
Riah felt remorseful,
Ashamed, as if
She had bad-mouthed kin.
Sorry! Sorry.
But so hard.
Hard to live so
Idle for so long. Hard
Knowing what to
Do–what not to
With a thing that
You could never

Once more, her eyes
Turned to James and
Tom. Kneeling over
Porch boards. Riah

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