Harmony Button

Hardware Crush


Hardware store: where you buy
bits that may or may not fit
or fix the hard things that are broken
or need built, or betterment.

I know this Depot like the back of my hand
like my own soft breast that I examine
dutiful like the chart says, in circles, searching
for abnormalities.

I know where to search for paint remnants –
rejects from bad batches or
colors that weren't quite as desired:
dear discount paint, I browse you
like a teen girl eager to fall in love,
desperate to get some sign that he's the one!
– and then I'd paint the world your muddy color.

It's a common impulse: the desire to feel fated,
the itch to fall in love.

It happened with a choke cherry – an October Sale
at 75% off already reduced low prices, a glorious 16 ft
stick in a bucket. I was ready to carry you home
on my hip, plant you in my front yard,
gas line be damned, before I even knew
what color your leaves, or if you would flower
and for how long, and bear what fruit. I carted you
with me through the lumber section, through
the plumbing, all the way to carpets
before I let some sense talk me out of crushing
my way into long-term arboreal commitments.

It happened again with a front door
someone custom ordered then rejected:
solid oak, in-laid glass, vintage hinges –
oh be still my heart. It didn't matter that the
dimensions were for a door-shaped hole
entirely unlike the one in my own house
because, dear door, I wanted you, wanted
to be you, wanted to be the kind of woman
who would love you long time, door –
but price tags and tape measures came
between us, darling. It was not meant
to be.

But best yet was the time
I was coming out carrying a little bag
(some picture tacks, a tube of caulk)
and the wind was crisp and the day was young
and there, in the parking lot, a towhead toddler
stopped his mother in her tracks and pointed,
open-mouthed and staring: who
is her, Mommy? Who is her?


Heartware Store


Aisle 1: Compassion Cleansing Product,
now available in an EZ-grip spray bottle.
Apply where needed, gentle scrub. Guaranteed
to remove bitter build up and heart grime,
even in those tough-to-reach areas.

Aisle 3: Forgiveness & Resiliencies
sold separately. The man in the orange apron
reminds me that my system should be calibrated
to handle alternating circuit, otherwise
I'm sure to break down, probably somewhere
inconvenient. Do you have Triple A for heartache?

Aisle 5: Capacity
For when you need a coat of bright new paint
to make a dingy interior seem more spacious.
Come in! Watch out for toadstools. Come in!
Don't touch that – paint's still wet.

Aisles 6-9: Plumbing & Electric. Here is where
the nozzles live, the galvanized valves,
the push-to-connect female adapter fittings.
The woman who works here
shares her favorite product, like a secret.
This is how you use conversion couplings,
she sighs, this is how – install a pressure gauge.

Aisle 10: Power Tools
I am looking for a sawzall. The fella
who helps me looks suspicious.
So, he says, you're planning to really
fuck some shit up. That's the plan,
I tell him. Change gonna come.

Aisle 11: Building Supplies
My favorite aisle, full of drywall, plywood
and gravel to set posts. This is where I found
you, love, sorting through the cedar planks
to find one made of heartwood, grain sliced
smooth as an almond, because, you said
not only was it stronger, but it was
also beautiful. Alas, my love,
I should have known – when I saw you,
you were holding two. You said,
I couldn't choose. I couldn't choose.


Saint Rita


There is too much water to wash,
our earth gone underground –
too many sea swells to sail around
and around. Halfway from here
is yet another calendar. Days
on days of soap. Saint Rita,
patroness of impossible causes, lives
in my kitchen. Each day, I wash
her feet with a dishrag, lay myself
on her mercy. Saint Rita: axe,
bucket, shovel. Together
we suffice.

      return to poetry

Harmony Button has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Web awards and was awarded the Larry Levis Prize (Academy of American Poets). She attended Middlebury College and University of Utah (MFA). You can find her work in Colorado Review, Southwestern American Lit, Ithaca Lit, BlazeVOX, and other publications. She is currently English Department Chair of the Waterford School in Utah.