By Philip Levine
Leo's Tool & Die, 1950
In the early morning before the shop
opens, men standing out in the yard
on pine planks over the umber mud.
The oil drum, squat, brooding, brimmed
with metal scraps, three-armed crosses,
silver shavings whitened with milky oil,
drill bits bitten off. The light diamonds
last night's rain; inside a buzzer purrs.
The overhead door stammers upward
to reveal the scene of our day.
for lunch on crates before the open door.
Bobeck, the boss's nephew, squats to hug
the overflowing drum, gasps and lifts. Rain
comes down in sheets staining his gun-metal
covert suit. A stake truck sloshes off
as the sun returns through a low sky.
By four the office help has driven off. We
sweep, wash up, punch out, collect outside
for a final smoke. The great door crashes
down at last.
In the darkness the scents
of mint, apples, asters. In the darkness
this could be a Carthaginian outpost sent
to guard the waters of the West, those mounds
could be elephants at rest, the acrid half light
the haze of stars striking armor if stars were out.
On the galvanized tin roof the tunes of sudden rain.
The slow light of Friday morning in Michigan,
the one we waited for, shows seven hills
of scraped earth topped with crab grass,
weeds, a black oil drum empty, glistening
at the exact center of the modern world.
Levine is the new US Poet Laureate.
Thursday was another chore day, though not a bad one except that the parking lot at the dermatologist is now the same sort of scam as the parking lot where the orthopedist's office is -- there are plenty of spaces but the lots are run by companies that charge a small fortune for valet parking for "incapacitated patients," taking up 90 percent of the lot, meaning that the choice is either to pay through the nose to park or to wait and wait and wait for one of the few public spaces to open up. It's not enough that our health care costs are up and our insurance is paying for less and less...now the facilities have to make it outrageously expensive to park, something that insurance clearly won't cover? I'd threaten to find a new dermatologist for myself and the kids except that my doctor and the kids' ophthalmologist are in a complex that also charges for park-your-own spaces even though it's not like there's a mall, an airport, or anything else adjacent that makes spots competitive. They just want to bleed patients.
The kids got their skin taken care of, and since we were over in Rockville, we met Paul for lunch at Tara Thai, which was delicious. Then we came home, where I did some work, Adam went to the track, and Daniel claims nearly to have finished Persona 3 except that he still needs hours and hours of video gaming to do so. (He seems to think he can finish this and Persona 4 before he starts college. I am dubious.) While I was out walking I bumped into my neighbor. She adopted a kitten, Zoe, a few weeks ago after losing her cat of many years, and her husband, who was not very allergic to the cat, is very allergic to the kitten so she needs to find a new home for it this weekend. We had Zoe over our house for an hour, much to Rosie and Daisy's great chagrin -- Cinnamon made herself scarce, so I don't know what she thought, but the other two did a bit of hissing -- and I think we all feel that, although the kitten is utterly adorable, three cats is what our house can comfortably hold, so if anyone wants to welcome a sweet, funny, FLV-negative 4-month-old into your home, will you please let me know? All photos by Blepfo.