Homesteader

Somehow he had taken
tarpaper and tin from an
abandoned lean-to
and rearranged them
into the prettiest cottage
you would ever see.

A rowdy bougainvillea vine
clutched the black walls
like a clinging lover, the dark background
a chiaroscuro, watercolors
on charcoal.

The windows were
draped in clean burlap, dyed indigo,
tied back with foxgrape vines.
Polished pebbles formed
mosaics around each doorsill.

Nobody really knew
where he came from.
Days before there was nothing
there but pulverized cow patties
and bitterweed.

At first I resented
this interloper—the pasture
belonged to me.
One day I sauntered over
with the intentions of serving
an eviction notice.

But when he showed me
his garden patch
and picked a hamper of
the freshest bibb lettuce
and the ripest tomatoes for me,
I hesitated.

Then he made up a batch
of sassafras tea with honey
from a tree-hive in the forest.
Served in a mason-jar glass
stuffed completely with
spearmint and spring water,
it tasted like nectar from paradise.

The next day,
with thoughts of private ownership
far from my mind
and a new appreciation for good neighbors,
I unhinged the No Tresspassing sign
from the gate by the road.

by Sonny Rainshine

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