peel away the bark

i’m building a fort with leftover scrap wood my dad piled beside the carport. pieces of wood, strung with bits of bark, and plastic stapled into the gaps.  it’s january and the snow is deep. i have to dig out my fort each day, add a few boards. the hammer is heavy in my hands, awkward.  it’s a big project. when it’s finally complete, Kathy and I sit, pow-wow style, and talk. the sun heats the fort and we’re forced to remove snow-pants and jackets too. it’s uncomfortably hot.  still, we talk, laugh, tell secrets.  time stretches, elastic. absentminded, Kathy peels away the bark and we build a nest.  day ends, as it always does in the north in the winter, with the sudden, disappearing sun.  cold sneaks beneath plastic sheeting.  we emerge, carrying our outer clothing, and crunch across snow to the kitchen door.