Russell Rowland



Paul, a mason, took our cracked chimney apart
from the top, rousing yellowjackets in the eaves.
Defenders stung, he fought back with pesticide.
Today, from the ground skyward, Paul rebuilds:
no Tower of Babel, no designs on heaven, just
chimney blocks stacked, venting furnace fumes.
It is no sin of pride to covet warmth while time
stands still all cabin-fever winter, vexing those
who can afford heating oil and those who can’t.
Our chimney will not endure the End of Days,
though it outlasts the residents. Paul is skilled,
but nuclear winter could disintegrate the world.
There is a cellar hole in the woods—and what
was chimney, just piles of brick. A family tree
dropped autumn foliage of epitaphs years ago.
Once mortar dries, we can turn the furnace on,
and forget the homeless yellowjackets, circling
like pilots whose aircraft carrier has gone down.

New Hampshire poet RUSSELL ROWLAND is a trail adopter for the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, a doting grandpa, and a retired pastor. Two chapbooks are available from Finishing Line Press, and a full-length collection, We’re All Home Now, from Beech River Books. He is a seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee.