Un-plumb

leaning toward the sea but not into it
when leaning to compensate for a crooked
foundation is it really leaning or more an
effort to stand tall and proud?

I cut out half of the subfloor,
then excavated rocky earth from
between the still-solid joists
in an attempt to put some distance
between this shack’s musty bottom
and the earth

once I’d move enough earth
to get a heavy jack beneath the
uphill corner, my neighbor
helped me jam some treated runners
underneath the sunken end

I ran the jack while he eyed
the level set on the floor just
inside the door that through years
of un-plumb existence had learned
to open itself

we jacked that shack level.
the floor at least,
set it gently down on
blocks and runners
jumped around inside
until we were sure it
wasn’t going to fall off the blocks

but once inside, standing on
the new level floor, the walls
were noticeably out of plumb,
but the door swung properly on its
hinges and my pen didn’t roll off
the desk

“let’s call it good,” i told him
“if you say so”.
and i remember an old saying,
or part of it anyway,
a shack grown crooked will
never grow straight

after a few weeks
i noticed that i approached
the page differently now,
less off-balanced than before
and this didn’t seem quite right

as if my attempt to level
this shack was meant to
bring order to this far
from ideal space

but with the return
of the fall rains,
the excavated areas
around the shack
and its new, ad-hoc
foundation began to
settle into mud
and fallen, yellowed
salmonberry leaves

before long
as i stomped the mud
from my boots
just inside the shack
i could feel the uphill
side slowly sinking
returning to its comfortable
slouch

the door began
again to swing freely
on its gnarly hinges
and i could always find a pen
or two on the floor
against the back wall
in the morning

the endless day
and firm earth of
summer gave out
beneath low pressure
systems,
big tides, unseen moons
and gray rising
up from the sea
and sinking down from
the mountain passes

in wet wool,
i tip back in my creaky chair
in my leaning shack
and grow crooked poems
odes to this crooked life
this non-quite balanced
ball of constant
realignment
seeking level
or at least something
to lean against.

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