Landscaping

I stand high atop the truck bed

on a long summer day

raining shovelfuls of pea stone

like a deafening hailstorm

into his wheelbarrow below.

We don’t say much,

just curse under our breath

about the heat and our work.

Later on, he tells me that

one of the mowers is broken,

that he wants me to learn

the route to the repair shop in Maynard –

the one out past Walden Pond,

and through West Concord –

that we need to load up the truck, get going.

We heave the dead machine up above us

tie it down tight to both corners,

pull ourselves up into the cab.

While Immigrant Song rumbles out

through the radio on the dash,

we laugh together

because the hard work is done

and we can say we got lost, come back late.

So we decide to look for a place to swim

and cool off.

He slumps down and tries to scrape

and kick the mud off his boots.

But it’s too late and it has dried there –

and I know because I have tried too.

But all of the mud, and the heat, and the sweat –

these are now a part of me,

like the burned coffee we drink in the basement,

or the wet grass we cut in the morning –

and whenever I hear Zeppelin, or broken Spanish,

this day will come back to me,

the one where our only goal

was to find some western shore.