by Monica Woelfel
His hands, mine, grip, our backs bend, arms lift stone and carry. Gnats come close, linger, bite. Knees bend, ache. Can this be who we are together best – two people building a wall of rocks in the woods, arguing over what constitutes a straight line? Our conversation flags and wakes. The hoe bites into sand and gray concrete powder, makes a gritty scrape against the metal wheelbarrow belly. Sometimes he wears a transistor in one ear, says, What? if I ask him a question, disconnects the wire for long enough to hear me, answers, plugs it back in. Other times a nuthatch stops in a nearby fir, beeping.
When we check our work from the previous day, we find the mistakes have hardened into place. Still, as the wall grows, it lends the hope that there is nothing we can’t build together — if we just move slowly enough.