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Some Assembly Required

Jan Carroll

The kit comes free of its script
not having shipped with instructions,

only a tip line to call in distress,
a site to log into in the middle

of the night when you’ve almost
gotten it together except for the few

leftover pieces—3 screws, 1 metal washer—
and the thing wobbles and lists, flirts

with disaster, questions its existence
not to mention your fix-it-ness,

your persistence, your breaking point, your wits.
This doesn’t sit well with the you that lost

another little bit of your dignity
getting fitted today to stand up

in a spring wedding. “We’ll have to let out
the seams there, add larger darts

here and here,” the needle-worker admitted,
gritting her teeth. In the morning, hopefully,

despite this, your kid will come tripping down
the stairs and into the room where the glitzy

tree holds its own against bitter winter weather--
for now—and you’ll know the distinct pleasure

of joy synching up with your offspring, that arrow
in your quiver, those eyes lit up, that grinning

even though it wasn’t exactly what was asked for—
you couldn’t find that—but in a pinch

you got this instead, wishing on a star
that it would do the trick—all that years later

only a blip on the movie screen, yet you’ll drink in
sips of I-did-it again and again,

loose change, unclaimed hardware still
tossed on a chipped plate
near the window as if
spit out, glints of sun trying

to figure out that odd topographical map,
its tumbled residual gist, its pith,

its awkward attempt at inventiveness

Jan Carroll’s books include River (2015) and With What’s Left: Gardening, Earth-Tending, and Keeping On in the Midst of Climate Crisis (November 2019). She facilitates small poetry-writing groups and the local reading series 6x6. Her website is jancarrollpoetryetc.net.