Jeremy Rock

Stake

-After Valheim

There, in the dim crackle of pitch
I’ve just lit, I take down the boxes
and polish their wood. I don’t own

a rifle, but I understand this is mine
like these walls could be anything
else. My thumbprint in beams

and nails, the way the black oven
always burns meat just right. The trees
I remember best are ones I cut


root by root from the dirt, the most
familiar stones those dragged miles
to rest enmeshed as gates and corner

blocks. With hands that crack and turn
red, I’ve threaded fences and laid
gardens, shingled twenty-sixes and forty-

fives. I’ve listened to the sky recline on thatch
overhead and seen the grease fire sun set
on countless bits sprawled before it.

Jeremy Rock’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, The Shore, Stonecoast Review, Cider Press Review, Sugar House Review, Bear Review, and elsewhere.