He’d hoist a panel to the ceiling

and have me hold one end,

keeping his head dead center,

and stand there like a pillar.


Then pluck a black nail from his mouth

and drive up his two corners,

gypsum dust sifting down

as if from small detonations.


Deliberate as a man walking ice,

he turned and slid an elbow

to take my end, face whitened now

as a wraith, the hammer rising.


Four strikes and the nail was in

and countersunk in its quarter-sized dimple

where later he’d knife in the spackle

then mud and tape the joints.


For now he’d hung a kind of screen

over the wiring of heaven,

a hole cut here and there

through which the lesser light would dangle.


Outside was darkness, early winter.

The tripod lights shone up at his work

from the corners of the room

as the dust sank through our rising breath.


Paul Bone is the author of the poetry collections Momentary Vision of the Assistant Meteorologist and Nostalgia for Sacrifice. He teaches writing at the University of Evansville and is Co-Editor of Measure Press and Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry.

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