John Grey, 11/5/2018
Current Occupation: Retired
Previous Occupation: Financial Systems Analyst
Contact Information: Australian born poet, US resident since late seventies. Worked as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Front Range Review, Chiron Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Midwest Quarterly, Convergence and Pulsar.
DRIVING THE PILE
Pile driver at the building site,
noise upon noise upon noise
to the point where the brief silence
is also a noise.
To some who work nearby,
it's an itch
that only five o'clock
and the commute home
To others, it's a nail
in their headache's coffin.
Kids watch through cracks
in the surrounding fence.
Someday, they'll be old enough
to work the machinery themselves,
hard-hatted, tattooed and sweaty,
battering the earth into submission,
making a din loud enough
to antagonize every adult
they've ever encountered
down through the years.
For now, they're awestruck
by the brutal pulverizing.
For now, the grimaces,
the pain of strangers
will have to do.
Up before dawn, walking the six dark blocks
to the mill, lunch-pail thumping against his thigh,
his wife dead.
And he was walking through her dying,
the cracked asphalt beneath,
the unlit houses on either side,
the brick monster emerging form the weeds
at the end of the lane.
He was breathing her last breath,
chilly and damp.
He was hearing her last heartbeats,
the clip of old shoes on sidewalk.
The wind was her groan.
The creak of her crippling arthritis
was the swing of the rusty mill gate.
Nothing could live until he opened up
the back door, stumbled down the cellar steps,
flicked on the light, started up that wretched boiler.
Until radiators kicked on, all through the upper floors,
the town was nothing but a corpse, awaiting burial,
and he, the very last undertaker,
the early morning crew straggled in,
there was movement, activity, somewhere above him.
He settled back in his chair,
selected a well-thumbed magazine from the stack,
read the same stories, looked at the same pictures,
he did every day.
His wife dead, this was how he remembered her.
in the same blue overalls he wore to every funeral.
But the room warmed up,
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