THE FRAMING CREW
for Clemens Starck
For half an hour, nobody says a word; instead we ride that
necessary silence -- still bleary from last night's bourbon --
through the same patchy farmland we've been riding through
all of our lives: bayonets of spring corn spearing the loose soil,
endless rows of soybeans on the margins of the one-silo towns,
a chorus line of poplars flinging the capes of their shadows
across the curve of a country road.
Finally outside Martinsville the new subdivision
looms into view -- the bare beams and rafters
the bones of some mastodon suspended in
thin air -- and by midmorning the truck is unloaded
and the rural calm shattered by the steady whine of our saws.
In a hundred years, no one will remember
a moment of this. Not Sam-bam the drywall man, dead
within a year of cancer. Not old George Dobson, still painting
baseboards on his seventy-three year old knees. Not Jimmy, our foreman,
who is having an affair with the unhappy wife of the rich builder
we all work for. Not Charles, cement finisher and frustrated artist,
who now scrawls his initials into concrete slabs.
In a hundred years, no one will remember a word, or a gesture,
or a moment of this, though perhaps with good fortune, in this room
we're now framing, a young couple will make love, slowly
and with care, afterward opening the windows to lie
in the cool evening, to share a silence broken only
by the distant whisper of a river, by a sigh of wind in the trees.
Published by The Florida Review.