It was an unbuilding,
more deliberate than a demolition
a deconstruction accomplished over time
a plank-by-plank denuding
of our most basic structure
as patient, planned, and organized
as the original architecture.
Remember, this was a decision,
this prizing-out of driven nails,
this breaking away of all supports,
these careful taps to dislodge mortar
from every dusted brick. Lifting the planks,
pulling down the ceiling, unhangin the doors,
the windows not shattered, but closed, latched,
then unshimmed, unsashed, uninstalled.
You did it all on purpose.
The house is down. I hardly remember
what it looked like, standing.
It's been counted, divided, shared-out.
But now you stand between the stacks
with a list, gesturing here and there,
along among the beams and braces,
the shingles, fittings, screws and steps,
smiling your encouragement,
speaking words of salvage.
Karen Berry lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Her poetry has been published in Goblin Fruit, Fireweed, Seek It, Prairie Poetry, and many more journals and anthologies. Her poem "Ceres" was nominated for the Dwarf Star Poetry Prize, and her piece "Caught" was a runner-up in The Binnacle's ultra-short fiction competition. Her first novel, Love and Mahem at Francie June Memorial Trailer Park, was published in June of 2014.