Falling through the Cracks by Tricia Knoll

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

I had summer time and a knife in my hand.

The carpenter summoned me
onto my deck to smell Port Orford cedar.
He talked straight grains,
planks of yellow, white, and pink,
decay resistance — reasons
not to replace this deck.
He couldn’t build a deck like this again.

I leaned in with my Goodwill knife
to clean between cracks. My knife flicked up
crammed-in tufts of grass and roofing grit,
Greyhound hair, composted leaves, cherry pits
 cedar duff, nails, dried up cherry petals,
screws, potting soil rocks -- Deck Archaeology 101
blue bits of glass, perhaps a martini dropped
during Billie Holliday’s “Blue Moon” on a July night.
Perfumey roses on glass tables,
Candle drips?

I peeked through opened space 
where bits fall through.
    Unreturned phone calls. Exercise commitments. New Year’s resolutions.
    Vows to never do that to your own kids. Thank yous. Postponed kindnesses.
    Campaign promises. Battered women, damaged children, help for veterans, reducing           emissions, saving species and warming seas, gun violence,
    the uninsured unwell.

I feared falling, failing,
a half mile of jammed up cracks to clean,
these planks we walk each day.

I had summer time and a knife in my hand.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet — both a lifelong feminist and activist for human rights and a person who writes haiku, practices tai chi, lift weights and tends a native plant garden. Retired after many decades of communications work for the City of Portland, her poetry has appeared recently in Windfall — a Journal of Poetry of Place, Elohi Gadugi Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, Literary Mama and other publications. She is a frequent contributor to New Verse News.