the deck I built, your mother’s plantings,
blossoms and birds carved
into closet doors for the room
you were gonna paint purple.
It all went red on my half-time,
then Mom got sick and the car died.
Winter gnawed through that drafty trailer
and the drunk-ruckus apartment on Ninth,
until I got the other job and this place,
where you can walk to school
and help Mom sow a small garden.
The landlord doesn’t want a handyman, just a check
every month. But at night, in the garage
over a makeshift bench, I build birdhouses—
top-grade plywood, stainless steel screws,
tin-faced nesting holes
nothing’ll chew through.