Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Climbers

We leave the world with our heavy clothes on,
slough off a day's worth of sweat and strip dress clothes

stuck to our skin. forget the television with its terrible news.
We know that we’re too tired for change, except for a worn sweater

and slippers, share just enough energy between us to climb the steps with you
to our bedroom, untwist the question
of floral blankets, cackle together like old spinsters, slide off

into this shared body of sleep. After the dream, tomorrow will be rain,
and the city sky will  bleed out over the three roofers I watch, climb

a neighbor’s house, as I walk to work under their downpour
of bent nails, the dust their work stirs up. They toss over empty coffee cups,

ragged shingles, the green one scurrying up with tools.
already knowing the importance of being helpful, too young

to consider the edge, slip of a tennis shoe on wet gutters,
that eternal oh shit moment.

I’m thinking of the first time I fell from a ladder, How the plumber
I worked with said, they’d bring flowers if I was dead, hire someone else the next day.

I learned to survive the white knuckle climb, to hide
the shaking knees, the flaming back and get there. Leave the boy

on the steep, wet rungs below. Don’t look back at him, ask if he’s ok,
let him think about what might happen, the grip this has on his hands,

the rain, when it picks up, how it’ll make the decision for him.
never again and never again and never again.

-- Bob Walicki

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