Under Construction

by Cathryn Hankla

Plaster dusts the cobalt kitchen tile.
Drop cloths swathe couch and chairs.
The tub bears temporary scars of the vibrant blue
daubs on her watchband and hands.
Her eyelashes appear to be dotted with glue.
Her hair clumps in avenues of hues
painted inside the hutch, cabinets, and drawers,
cloud-colored, tasting of rainwater.

The patient planing of maple boards,
this is what her hands can do—
trim and lathe, miter and tamp.
This is what her hands can do—
saw oak into bookshelves,
pamper plants with compost,
pour a china cup of Oolong tea,
mince onion fine as silk.

This is what her hands can do—
ply my skin, swim blind but true,
descend until my body rends to material,
stripped to original bead board,
dissolved to its trace
elements, discovered under
broken promises,
an empty space awaiting shape.

CATHRYN HANKLA’s the author of eleven books of poetry and fiction, including Last Exposures: a sequence of poems and Fortune Teller Miracle Fish: stories. She is Professor of English & Susan Gager Jackson Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University.