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The Man

ISSUE:  Fall 2010

After his friends
rigged a pulley
and lowered the pack

of Kool menthols;
after he laughed
and then winced

and squinted up
at the trickle of dirt
dusting his lashes;

after his wife
had come sobbing
through the glare of the kliegs

and called down,
to where the men pointed,
how much she loved him;

after their son
sat cross-legged
at the edge of the hole

saying yessir,
yes to whatever
came through the receiver;

after a gloved hand
had burst
through the clods and pale roots

and fastened the harness,
and tugged
for the lift to begin;

when he’d flashed
his thumbs-up
and heard the men roar;

when he’d answered
all the EMT’s questions
then laid his head back

and sobbed, and thanked God,
and then finally,
violently seized—

only then,
in the dark, sleeping house
before work,

looking up from the paper
as the first stars
faintly shined

in the skeletal arms
of the trees,
did I get a fleeting,

unspoken, yet
suddenly clear
sense of our real situation.


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