Home Improvement—Four Nights in the Life of the DIY-Impaired

(1)  This World of Experts

Roof leaks? Everybody knows you call a roofer.
Walls need painting? A painter.
Plumbing shot? gouting? spouting?
You call a plumber, of course.

Last night the front door suddenly
refused to close—clanged to a halt
thirty degrees off true, and there it sits,
Pandora’s box with a welcome sign

and there is no doorer.


(2)  Doing It Ourselves

In Baltimore I hung curtain rods
with a high spike heel (black patent).
By Los Angeles I’d found the hammer.
When we moved at last to the house in Eau Claire,
we escalated to pull-drapes, molly screws,
and the venerable brace and bit we use today.

In one room the drapes do close.


(3)  What Is the Sound of One Door Gapping?


            2 x 4, unfinished, origin unknown
            knob      stairway     space
                      e x p a n d i n g           contracting


            hassock, wood and leather, vintage ‘30s
            portal steel resisting, glass strains


            crinkled Walmart tarp
            storm threatens

red satin, shiny brass

            two Christmas bells lurk
                        in a shallow trough

delicate balance

eyes close, sleep eludes


(4)  Handy Man

Three nights, three days utterly motionless—
“Do something.” “You do something.” “What?”
“I don’t know.” Friends speak of handy men,
notoriously not in the book, offer names:
these two are out of town, though; that one
meticulous but slow and promised till April.

In the yellow pages no listing for home repairs,
but of all wonders here a tiny item, the impossible,
“Handyman Servs.” We’ve chosen one. Tomorrow
one of us will have to make the call.

—Nadine S. St. Louis, Eau Claire, WI