Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Window on the South Side

Three of us worked together that day to cut a new window into this old house. Two watched as the third hoisted saw and laid teeth against the wall, making splintered chalk of lathe and plaster. The geometry of a rectangular opening began to form.

You buzzed through the last increment while the two of us held our hands against the lathe. Then, as the shape came loose, we lowered it and examined the dark insides now exposed – studs, tar from paper applied during construction,nails, exterior siding, and the smell of dank air long trapped between outside and in.

When the last splinters of two studs came away, we were left with the house’s original siding. You jammed the saw through a small starter hole and began punching and chewing through board after board. A rectangle of sunshine formed from left to right, down and across.

Then, as if the house inhaled in surprise, this rectangle of wood fell inward. We caught it, set it down and stood in the dusty room. Quiet morning poured in with sweet grass smells. Two oaks stood just outside where they had been for a hundred years. In the distance, the valley unfolded, smoky, still shaded in early sun, waking up.

Light spoke, air moved inside, then out. We ran our fingers along the rough edges where the new window would go, and looked on at the hillside and a sunrise that had been warming up this piece of land from the beginning.