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This is the home he wants: his own,
chosen twenty years ago
out of a bone-deep need
to fill a glass with water from
his own well and drink his coffee
from his own brown mug. He carved
himself a garden from a matof briars, dug and bent the soil

to his will, soft and submitting.
Everything here is left unvarnished
and no one driving by would notice
this rough house, or half-blind dog.
It’s all for him, whose back and arms
have hewn it out of Ozark dross,
roadside finds, and rough cedar.
He’s made a smoker from a dryer

someone dumped down the hill.
The shed’s built from ripped-up pallets.
He’s cash poor, and he is fierce.
He’s walked this patch of ragged land
a thousand times in hiking boots—
no socks, no shirt, his shoulders burned,
his jaw set, his teeth sunk
in this forgotten piece of earth.

—Anna Stiritz