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Work

John Steffler


my son, who's seventeen years old,
rides his bicycle to work in the heat and rain, and his
          legs and arms are bony and muscled

old men love to send them into the smoke
and trenches, into the knowledge of how easily bodies and
          courtesies come apart -- we did it by jesus we did it,
          now you'll see

and for eight hours scrubs the burnt paint
off what he describes as iron grapefruit halves, assisting
          in the trickling together of parts from the continent's
          corners, some race of machines assembling itself in
          Karnac, Ohio, or Oshawa, my son labouring obscurely at
          the birth

handsome as never again, just getting his beard

comes home black with grease, proud and marvelling;
the other men, he says, don't talk about sports or politics,
          they talk about Ed's wife who's having her first baby,
          Ed says the baby's already dropped,

growing up in the country of my past, he'd often
had the shrines pointed out to him, the jobs from grade six
          on (35 cents an hour to start), heaving crates of
          rotten fruit, green bales of alfalfa, planks into the
          planer, planks into the planer

the rubber gloves they give him are like artificial
hands

working the wire brush, water spills
into his steel shoes, and the men who pass say that looks
          like fun

saving

lies in bed in the dark
smiling, sensing his growing invisible shape, his stories
          building



John Steffler's works copyright © to the author.


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