I spent what light Saturday sent sweating And learned to cuss cutting grass for women Kind enough to say they couldn’t tell the damned Difference between their mowed lawns And their vacuumed carpets just before Handing over a five-dollar bill rolled tighter Than a joint and asking me in to change A few light bulbs. I called those women old Because they wouldn’t move out of a chair Without my help or walk without a hand At the base of their backs. I called them Old, and they must have been; they’re all dead Now, dead and in the earth I once tended. The loneliest people have the earth to love And not one friend their own age—only Mothers to baby them and big sisters to boss Them around, women they want to please And pray for the chance to say please to. I don’t do that kind of work anymore. My job Is to look at the childhood I hated and say I once had something to do with my hands.
They sat on the dresser like anything I put in my pocket before leaving The house. I even saw a few tiny ones Tilted against the window of my living Room, little metal threats with splinters For handles. They leaned like those Teenage boys at the corner who might Not be teenage boys because they ask For dollars in the middle Of the April day and because they knock At 10 a.m. Do I need help lifting some- Thing heavy? Yard work? I wondered If only I saw the hammers. The teenage Boys visiting seemed not to care that They lay on the floor lit by the TV. I’d have covered them up with rugs, With dry towels and linen, but their claw And sledge and ball-peen heads shone In the dark, which is, at least, a view In the dark. And their handles meant My hands, striking surfaces, getting Shelves up, finally. One stayed In my tub, slowing the drain. I found Another propped near the bulb In the refrigerator. Wasn’t I hungry? Why have them there if I could not Use them, if I could not look at my own Reflection in the mirror and take one To the temple and knock myself out?