Shelves by Kimberly Keough

I look up from the umpteenth draft of this poem to watch
You prepare the shelves you are building for our books.
How deftly you saw through the knots and sinew. A swatch
Of worn out sandpaper and drill bits lie next to hooks
You’ll use as anchors on our crooked wall
While above you a school of salmon leaves swim
Away from their tree, against the wind. It’s fall
And you know this light won’t last, but you dare it to dim
As you pry off the lid of stain. I cannot understand
What makes you stay when I’ve never built you a thing
As solid or useful, by my own hand—
Just these hills of rough-hewed words which refuse to ring.
I tap on the window. You startle but point to the shelves,
Our moment read then slid back, to keep for ourselves.