By day, Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. By night, he is the author of nine published novels, three books of poetry, and a memoir. He lives in the coastal mountains of California where he built a house and raised a family under (and at mercy of) giant redwood trees.
Ode to Replacing a 50-Gallon Water Heater
Wrestling the mass of a gorilla
but less furry less flexible
removing crusty pipe
amid fragrance of rat droppings
and it is wet, puddles and streams of wet
because that is why you called me
so I bring the tools
the knowledge I carry
There is delicacy in plumbing
an art that rises beyond skill
to turn tight but not too
to thread tiny fittings
feathery fingertip to vise-like hand strength
to lift large
with visible results
a gleaming new tank.
I bring warmth
to your morning face your dirty dishes
your strawberry shampoo hair.
Think of me.