I cut down one of the big douglas firs.
It was sixteen inches in diameter,
eighty seven feet tall,
but only forty years old.
That windstorm last winter
leaned it toward the house.
I had to cut it down
before the lean got worse,
before it grew even bigger.
My sister, Linda, and her husband, Jesse,
spent two nights in my other bedroom.
The way she glowered at me got more intense
as she observed me talking about my life.
The third night she spent four hours
scolding me for not appreciating
our parents’ parenting skills,
and all the character flaws she saw in me.
I agreed with most of her opinions.
“Yes, you’re right. So what? That’s how I am.”
She left in a huff for the Humboldt House Inn,
most expensive motel in Garberville.
No more using Carl’s composting outhouse.
I staggered into Nancy’s cabin,
surprised her by asking, “Got any dope?”
I hadn’t smoked any for a long time.
She giggled while I puffed away my stress.
I went back to the law office
to awaken my dormant custody suit,
this time with Rusty
playing in the waiting room.
Family lawyers have toys.
I didn’t want to take him
away from his mom, but
when she went on a binge of beer,
she got so out there it was scary.
The lawyer was as handsome as
the leading man in an old movie.
He kept wanting to rewrite
my attachment fourteen,
but I wouldn’t allow inaccuracy.
He used one phrase I remember,
“your love for Nancy,”
which at first made me think
he didn’t understand me at all,
but maybe he understood me
better than I did.
Rain dripping off the edge of the roof.
My small son asleep on the couch.
A calico cat eating a breadcrust.
Peaceful music, subliminal,
“Take Control of Your Own Life,”
barely audible mumbling.
Amazing how one day of rain
makes green and lush the forest
that looked dry and dead.
Let it rain more.
Let my life become green and lush.
Now I’ve got not only Rusty
but the rest of Nancy’s family.
Blacky, her old Labrador
decided to walk over here
and pretend he’s one of the cats.
Nancy’s cats have already joined mine.
I have to put the food on a big board,
after Blacky picked up the bowl
and carried it off to dine in private.
Ella and her boyfriend Troy
had to move out of the tar-paper shack.
Troy parked his truck beside it
but the ground was soft as potting soil.
We had to crank the comealong
at least ten times to get it unstuck.
I’m trying to encourage Troy
to get some dependable income.
He’s looking into truck driving school,
telling me how much he can make.
I’m building Rusty some toy boxes,
not that his huge constructions
of waffle blocks ever get put away.
copyright © 2005 Carl Miller