I've got seeds in my pocket,
a tape measure in my hands,
and plans rolled up tight on tracing paper
in my backpack—all these for when
I end up where I'm headed, and it comes
the time to build.
In the land that will be mine,
I'll first find where the little creek flows, and
plant the maple with the crooked branch
that leans over the water, for fishing.
Then, the old oak with its plastic red swing
and the big mango tree, for climbing,
and tall hemlocks next to wide-limbed spruces,
for the children to hide beneath and play.
I'm bringing my sister's quiet street
to settle around the house, a long loop
wide enough for four to walk side-by-side,
barefoot on greying asphalt still leaking
the sun's warmth in late afternoon.
I'll make a garden, too, filled up with
vegetables and flowers alike, and
bordered by my mother's old butterfly bushes.
She and I will sit out there in summer,
reading the books she never
found the time to read, and with new eyes
she'll laugh at fine print with me.
Inside the house there will be a special closet,
for memories that only need remembering
once in a while.
My father's father will keep
his wheelchair in this closet, while he plays
Chinese shuttlecock out in the courtyard,
and my friends will leave
their hospital gowns—faded, worn,
smelling faintly of death—
folded neatly on the shadowed shelves.