Dishwasher Repair

Steven Welzer
3 min readMar 10


Here you will find five handheld brooms
and dustpans with children’s names on them,
a persimmon tree coveted by squirrels and tended by tired humans,
a laundry line not infrequently decorated with
the linens of an old, fierce woman,
a time capsule deep in the ground that
doesn’t contain the jeans my husband hates.

Here you will smell jasmine as you make your way
to the bike shed to wrestle with the stubborn lock,
the taste of common meal …
basil pesto, white rice, charred broccoli …
the feel of a child hiding under the table,
brushing up against your legs while you eat the meal,
the sound of fingers plucking at a banjo floating down from the window.

Here is customized tenderness:
Pick and discard the weed that makes your neighbor sneeze.
Approach the shy child gently.

Leave some kale for the other families.
Build a shelter for the cat, unprompted.
Hang a disco ball in the branches during a pandemic.
Try to get the recycling right, even once.

The heartbreak Here is very human:
bodies that don’t work like they used to,
gods that no longer serve,
squabbling siblings, boring meetings,
and childhood wounds that never quite heal,
a water heater that was doomed from the start.

The lessons Here are mostly endurance and delight:
no one is ever thrown away,
just order pizza and forgive yourself,
put someone else’s kid in the red wagon and circle the block,
even better if you blast Lizzo from your cell phone,
look in the telescope in the yard and remember how small you are.

Sometimes you just have to say the thing,
sometimes you just have to not say the thing.

Here, the harvesting sometimes vexes the elder,
the car window glass glitters on the sidewalks
next to the sour grass,
the church was going to be a condo
but is somehow a church again,
the blackberries can be too sour some seasons.

But then, once a decade, a miniature horse
shows up in the yard like a miracle,
once a day, a couple circles the block like a miracle.

Here, the chrysalis attached to the hose rack
is lined with a filament of pure gold,
and somehow you don’t miss it when the Monarch emerges,
as if it wanted to be witnessed despite being an ethereal thing.

And just when you can’t parent one more minute
someone else reads a book to your child,
then your child becomes a teenager
and writes her college essay on Here.

Here has given her a dozen aunties
and a thing to roll her eyes at other than you.

She returns with the sturdiness of being known.
He returns fabulous in platform shoes.

The ping pong table is out, grab a beer,
watch the tiny white ball fly.
Yell to knucklehead across the yard
with his constellation of puppies.

Here, the magnolias and cala lillies are almost obscene.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel worthy of all this abundance.
But who are you not to enjoy a dance party in the courtyard,
a glass of sour homemade lemonade,
shishito peppers passed over the fence?
Who are you not to accept and offer up grace.

The simple things are never
as simple as you’d expect them to be,
but the hard things are much easier.

Love sometimes looks like dishwasher repair.

The nights aren’t getting any quieter,
so we might as well worship the way
Here composts our human condition.

- — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

By Courtney Martin at Temescal Commons Cohousing in Oakland, CA



Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).