flooded and wrecked us in Carolina
and fled the scene of her crime
to plant a wet kiss
on the North and East,
there came the forces
of fix and restoration.
I’d done my bit,
trimming and quartering
a long-needle pine that,
had only grazed my front roof gutter.
I’d raked and rolled the remnants,
-needles, branches, brush and siding-
to the curb.
I was resting in my wicker rocker
on my damaged porch
when the men and their
beat-up claw-lift trucks
rumbled down my street.
as one guy,
paused to talk.
He allowed my town
half a million dollars to the company
for unblocked streets.
He would see nothing of that big money,
but was proud,
I could tell,
for the part in the tough labor
he and his workers would do.
I offered his crew
cold water and the branch cutter
I’d used on that fallen pine
so they could cut away
low hanging branches above the piles,
the easier to reach the rubbish on my road
with their rusty hydraulic scoop.
They did a fine job.
And I thought,
I have sweat a few days in my life,
but I have not sweat my life away.
I have worked hard a few days in my life,
but I have not hard-worked my life away.
(I’m a retired school teacher
and sometime poet,
not a hard-hat,
I know the screech and scream
of a diamond-edged saw
as it cuts concrete blocks
on construction sites.
I know the weight
of a shingle square
cutting my shoulder
as I climb
a shaky ladder
to a second-story roof.
I know the acrid smell
as we hefted
Indian-tanks and shovels
up a burning, wooded hill
to cut a break and kill
the wind sucking blaze.
I can make an old mans
nostalgic claim to those labors
of my misspent youth.
will I own the
as these men do,
of day after day
sweat and dirt and dust and strain.
They deserve every dollar they will ever earn,
but will, for all their effort,
seldom make enough to more than just ends meet.
I can raise their pay for their toil,
(a few pennies worth anyway,)
with the admiration in these old-man-eyes
as I watch these skilled, young Merlins
work their magic on this broken world.