Before dawn, before other crews pull up
even my own; before a tailgate drops
and coiled cable, pipe and drills scrape the truck bed
emerge and unpack themselves; before the apron
slung from the waist is weighted: fasteners, driver bits,
meter and tape; before conduit saddles obstacles, saws
wind up and roar; before a compressor kicks the drums of my ear,
I rub a cricked neck, look across the cove. A tanager whistle.
The soft swell of light. The sharp profile of a spruce on the ridge.
Doing Chores after a Lousy Day at Work
Though hardly a saint I’ve levered broom under toe kicks, behind the fridge
and in the crack between linoleum and threshold. Down on my knees
with an old flannel sheet, I’ve scrubbed scuff marks and spatters of coffee
and left the rag to dry on the porch in the sun as my mother does
when she boasts you can eat off her floors. Though hardly the flush
I felt on first base having driven the lead run home, the shining chrome taps,
dusted sills and shirts hung in sunlight I’ve mastered better today
than the botched morning inspection or the client so miffed by
fingerprints left on her walls she withheld pay, or the slipping transmission
I thought had been fixed by the shop that now won’t return my calls.
Mark Prudowsky is a retired contractor who now teaches in a community college construction program. He is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA program for writers.