Smoke Break with the J & R Roofing Co.
A turning of the screw and across
the plywood I splay myself
where the sun walks down and lays
her head on my shoulder.
Yes, I’m imagining origin
in the feminine. But it gets lonely
on the rooftop and so why not
love the reflection in the tar bucket
as if it were my own, or better
yet, the face of some girl
in the window of a pick-up
passing by. Three out of four times
when I look at a stranger
I imagine one of my lives
in an alternate reality, where
I work in a sweater factory
and steal wool, and at night
we eat popcorn, watch old movies,
and knit ourselves together
in an ever-expanding white blanket.
Three out of four times
I look at the sun head on I see
spots in the distance,
and once followed them
until I blinked again
and they had disappeared,
and I was under an overpass
with a terrible cough and roof shingle
in my hand. Labor makes the soul
ache, and it’s the aching
that keeps me moving.
Once when the aching was gone
I felt a pang in its absence.
And so black tar. And so mop buckets.
In a day, a skeleton. In a week,
shelter. A roof for somebody
to call their own. Something held tight
over their heads as one day
they’ll open a window and look out,
and feel strange and comfortable
in this the life they dare not call their own.
Author Discusses Poems