Steven Brown

Real Estate


We moved the mobile home onto a lot
small enough to cut with a pull-crank mower.
We had a daughter there. I bought
a fix-it book and prayed for perfect weather,

started with the roof, a mop and tar
to seal the tin, kept the plumbing simple,
pulled the carpets up, polished down the floor
like the nave of a cathedral.

Determined, we classic amateurs
spent our dimes on paint and plywood.
Like solitary gods, we carpenters
built and thought the building good—

a safe-house, citadel, controlled
chapel of absolutes: We’ll never move;
our last mailbox; when we grow old;
believing what we could not prove

about hope, against loss, against theft.
Yet, all summer long, dead bees littered
the casement. The night you left
you said there were things we hadn’t considered.

Each box we could not sell or keep,
we took out to the road. I saw a wren,
its body an open nest in the street,
and bees gathering on the garbage men.