“Improvident” by Veronica Kornberg

Veronica Kornberg


That dream, a small cottage
with windows facing the Pacific and
—wait for it—
priced within reason.
Of course
there were none.
So for twenty-five years we simply drove
the twisty mountain route
through a green welter of redwoods
to bottom out along the coast
among scattershot barns
and rusty propane tanks, happy
to end up at the state beach,
shield our ham and cheese
from sand-laced wind.
Eventually our fruitless quest was more
idle banter than actual search
though we still nosed
into abandoned shacks
and tire track lanes dead-ending
in junk heaps. What more could we want?
One foggy day we spied
a peeled and faded sign set back
among overgrown cypress,
a footpath through a dense thicket
of dead pines that led to a cliff,
and perched on its crumbling edge—
a tiny house, crusted with orange lichen,
brown algae and termite wings, the redwood
water tank staves bowed and bleeding water.
Within weeks our 401(k) was gutted,
we were out chopping dead trees
and fiddling with a pump bladder,
fielding chiropractors, pricing
used tractors. We chimed the names
of everything around us—
wrack line, blackberry, wentletrap,
wooly sea daisy and gumboot chiton.
We took it all on faith, as is.
Below us, the violent sea
broke its beautiful teeth on the rocks.

from Rattle #79, Spring 2023


Veronica Kornberg: “Perhaps this poem reflects my inner Flopsy Bunny, about whom Beatrix Potter said, ‘They had a large family, and they were very improvident and cheerful.’” (web)

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