The first time we met
I did not see broken boards,
cracked windows,
the gaping holes
in your plywood walls,
or the sawdust trapped
in your cobwebs.

Nor did I notice the part of your roof
rotting underneath the cedars
that continue to encroach
on your eastern side.

I did not smell the amalgam of
fertilizer, mulch, citronella, or
the dying sweetness of freshly cut grass
that your previous
would leave behind
in his haste to move on.

Nor did I think of the abandoned
Tiki torches and garden tools
as bones to be buried,
and forgotten,
but rather, as perennials—
bulbs to be planted
and tended,
and tended.

I did not look at you
and see decay, or a latent
disease, ready to manifest
yourself as a virus
at any moment.

I did not see the chipped paint
of your exterior.

I saw potential,
an artist’s studio,
with an antique porcelain
sink for washing brushes,
and a refrigerator
for beer and cheese,

a loft,
wooden rafters,
a sauna
underneath your sagging roof,
a wood stove to heat your belly
and mine,
and mine.