Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Do you have a twenty-foot extension ladder?
Let’s get it out of the garage.
I want to put this birdhouse up on one of the evergreens
that stands off your back deck.
I’m going to use long tenpenny nails to fasten it to the tree
and some kind of wire strapping, too.
I want it to stay there for a long time.
I want you to notice it season after season —
how the mother bird keeps
flying in and out of the little knothole that I drilled
to where the baby birds stretch their mouths wide open
in a ferocious pink bouquet.
If I am no longer here for some reason,
I think you will still see me occasionally reflected
in the incessant activity of the birds
flying in and out of the birdhouse —
always coming and going just like I did,
not wishing to become too well-known,
or to ever stay long in one place.
And yet the birdhouse will say something different about me:
it will say that I lived here.
It will be a thing that I made with my hands
on a specific afternoon, working for hours
in my garage, with paint streaks and sawdust on my clothes,
and that I took the trouble
to hang that little domicile
high on the trunk of your particular tree
with a knowledge of how life always moves on
and yet leaves something behind as well
with something alive inside it.
You might say that memory itself
is a piece of real estate,
a residence with a private entrance
and a mystery inside
like this small château
painted blue with orange spots on it,
hung twenty feet high — a thing, for a while,
out of reach of the predator, time.