Old Cedar Board
By Andrea Lynn
I can only see half of your tightly wound circles now. Partial rings wrapping to nowhere, they were once an elegant interior. You still smell sweetly acidic when the temperature gauge out back makes it to 80. When I catch a whiff of your scent you send me to places far away and I feel safe. I think we needed four-inch nails when we put you in place. You remain solid, but your face has cracks and your ends have slivers. You’re missing a nail? Those still in place appear to have damaged your grain over time, hurting some of your ringlets, sending them farther apart. My right shoe always gets caught on your knot. Not the little one off to the left, but the big one in the center. It protrudes farther upward with every change in temperature as you expand and contract, always adjusting. You squeak now. The high pitch bothers my ears, but I always smile when I step on your sweet spot. The familiar sound soothes me, grounds me in the day. You are always here, in the same place greeting me each morning as I begin my descent into a day’s drama. There will be fresh sawdust on your surface tonight, visible evidence that the carpenter ants have taken up residence once again. They are probably elated that the crumpled dry leaves are settling in beside you to decay in winter’s fog. You are damp, and they can more easily chew their way deep inside your rings, building their nests with fine organic insulation. You will be hollower by spring, and your squeak will grow louder. My knees will take comfort in the increased volume of your creaks when the days are done and I ascend upon you, my reliable friend, last step.