Volume 30, Number 3

He Made Do

He made do in a lean-to of scrapwood
hidden beneath tangled alders and vines,
where he must have sat quiet like a stone

as my wife and I hefted shopping bags
up the rear kitchen stairs,
opened doors and closed them,
marched forward and returned,
mounding daily sacks of trash in the alleyway dumpsters.

He must have marveled at my frenzy,
as I mowed and weeded on weekends,
half killing myself with chainsaw madness,
staving off nature’s inevitably
victorious rise.
The hour did arrive
(he must have guessed it)
when I’d hack the brambles concealing his hut,
stand to catch my breath.
To study

how he’d stitched a floor of plastic cast-off lawn bags
to fend away the early morning dank.
Cobbled a chair with no legs, propped on two cinder blocks,
a corner to sit and smoke and think.

Arrayed empty soup cans upside-down in the dirt,
a galaxy of glinting tin beacons
spiraling wider through time.
Cleared a generous hole in the roof
to eavesdrop on stars mumbling as the night passed.

And he bored an escape route through the forest,
a reminder to people like me
who tend to forget.
Nothing we own is ours for long.

—Lowell Jaeger