We joked and blew on on our fingers
More frost was coming. A ladder, windbreakers
Caps and mitts, hammer, nails,
Measuring tape. We scoured the wood pile
for the six longest heaviest hardwood
slabs and six good lengths of cedar.
We dragged the hardwood to the farmhouse.
Two by two we nailed them together
For three right angles, each with the weaker
Nailed into the end of the better.
That was the worst done, nailing
Stubborn hardwood slab to slab.
Each right angle then got two cedar
Hypotenuses, One each side.
We took care to make the ends fit;
No little corners to mar the balance.
Pee break. The supports were made.
We drove six heavy spikes
Half through each brace to tie
To the wall, and started toenails
On the top piece. We shed layers
Of wool in the heat of hammering.
Almost done. Now to pencil three lines,
four feet apart, each seven feet below
the eaves. Each brace was lifted into
place, hands below to hold it,
others above to nail it in,
with the join against the wall. As strong
and elegant as any church.
We found boards for floorboards, nothing
much. Nailed them to the buttresses
to make a platform. We tried to shake it --
It was solid. It called for a dance.
It called for a beer and a joint, --unless
there was still time before lunch
to gather cement and water and sand
and trowels and hods and mix some mud
in the volkswagon hood we used for such things
and start chinking. Autumn nineteen
seventy something, Rochdale Farm.