To Behold and be Held

I’ll miss

waking up before dawn, dressing in the dark, 

stumbling down the stairs into the kitchen

Flicking the lights, oiling a pan

Making breakfast, coffee and lunch

Sausage and egg 

Lentils of course

So many lentils 

Sitting down at the table 

Listening to the house wake up 

Alarms and footsteps, doors opening 

I try to guess who walks in

I’ll miss 

Pedaling against the cold 

Watching the first light crawl across 

the red rock rim 

I’ll miss

Starting the day with a question 

Stretching our sore bodies 

In a circle that never stops laughing 

I’ll miss 

The cycle of leveling earth

pulling straight lines

building foundations 

Forms turn to framing 

Setting posts 

Hoisting beams 

I’ll miss

Climbing rusted sandstone

swinging from red arches and stained rafters 

wandering through canyons

rummaging through tools 

navigating rapids and floor plans, trails and trusses

I’ll miss

sleeping in a tablecloth clad metal bed 

and in soft sandy canyon cradles

I’ll miss

sweating and groaning in the hot sun

hotter on the roof


swimming, grinning, sipping in the cold creek

I’ll miss

Compressing, kicking, shoving

straw bales on spragged sill plates 

between posts

Under beams and window bucks 

I’ll miss 


In the kitchen 

In the yard 

At the work site 

With wheelbarrows and rakes 

A community of feet 

Boogie, scoot, and shift

A conga line  

Compacts a subfloor 

I’ll miss 


In the desert 

Around fires glowing

With capes and swords

Hooded and masked

Marched ½ mile out the next morning

By an angry ranger 

My first ticket 

Worth the memory

pallet nails plucked

from piles of ashes

I’ll miss 

Sundays carving spoons 

at the picnic table 

Whittling away the hours

Watching the light change 

And people come and go 

Welcoming company 

Sharing stories and knives 

I’ll miss 

The empty kitchen

The full dinner table 

We feed each other 

Beans, greens

fresh bread

I’ll miss 

Getting lost in the mountains

In spruce forests and wildflower fields 

Scrambling, slipping and sliding

Up and down steep scree switchbacks 

Hot springs smiles 

And alpine plunges  

Camping beside crystal lakes 

Night full of stars 

Friends full of surprises

Nose bleed, heavy breath and speechless sunrise

at 13,000 feet above 

I’ll miss 

Framing walls 

Stitching straw bale seams

And mudding sheetrock joints 

I’ll miss 

Friday night jams 

Songs about shoveling 

Concerts in the living room 

Singing in the sandstone bowl 

I’ll miss 

Sculpting an oven

Stacking stone 

Stomping clay sand into cob

With icy water and frozen toes

I’ll miss 

Mixing plaster

Running with wheelbarrows 

Trudging with buckets 

Slipping, scooping, troweling, smoothing 

Earth into walls

stone into showers 

I’ll miss 

Breaking, building, and shimming 

cabinets and countertops

Struggling to stay level-headed 

Finding square is an endless circle 

I’ll miss

The rare rainstorm in the desert

And the first snow 

I’ll miss 

This balance of work and play

Quiet and commotion 

I’ll miss 

Learning from, living with 

And belonging to 

a family of strangers

the finest fools

Who I will miss most of all. 

-Big Al

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