Kathryn Weld: "Building the New Room"




At first, the floor-boards—pitted, 

slopped with paint, seemed worthless.


We pried them out, and found,

beneath the joists, stumps of old 


trees, hatchet-chopped and silvery

with age. Ruddy bark adhered 


to the roots. We had no choice but 

torque shoulders and knees 


into the crawl-space, to muster 

saws, shovels, crow-bars … to dig 


them out was sweaty, dirty work 

in sand the neighbor's cat claimed 


for his own. Litany of vapor seals

and fiberglass, the squeal of screw 


in ply.... when we planed the shabby

boards, hardened gobs of white 


lead, wrinkled paint florets, 

enduring layers of varnish flew 


off in a shower of acrid dust, 

leaving some dimpled planks 


clear—others, traced with flourishes 

of a green stain that now in 


the new-laid floor sings 

the lineage of reclaimed wood.


Kathryn Weld is Professor of Mathematics at Manhattan College. A finalist for the Gearhardt Poetry prize and the Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry, her poems have appeared in journals such as Midwest Review, Southeast Literary Review, and Bellevue Literary Review.