Random Work

(Preamble: There is power in work. Biking, if you do it often enough, do it monomaniacally, you will get better. You learn to endure. Which, sheepishly, reminds me of the following poem, which I wrote for the full-length ballet/collaboration with Ballet Nouveau Colorado. In this, the father—a water meter reader, chides his son for running away, which to the dad, is a form of giving up. But you can never run away from work.)

WHAT I DO

I drive the company truck
to the assigned
neighborhood.
I go door to door
and ring the bell.
If someone is home
they let me in
and I go down
into the basement
to find the water
meter. Usually
it’s in the front
left corner,
but not always.
Sometimes I have
to hunker down
and take care
so I don’t crack
my skull
on a low
eave. Sometimes
there’s so much junk
I can hardly figure
out what’s what
or where the hell
I am. But I don’t
give up. I will find
the brass casing
and the face with
spinning dials,
I will flip open
the cap and check
the numbers twice,
I will wrap my face
in cobwebs,
I will suck in
the stench
of the bottom
of people’s lives
if I have to.
And then I’ll climb
back into the light
and cross the lawn
and ring the next bell.
I have learned to endure.
How did I not
teach you this?
You can’t run away.
Everything
gets found
sooner or later.

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