Sunday, March 26, 2017

two weeks of work

the building smelled
of wet
concrete, the steel beams
just settling
deep into the earth.
it rose twenty stories
in crystal city.
the elevators didn't work
so we climbed
with our buckets
and brushes
starting at the top.
work was slow.
the economy was on empty
as gas
lines with alternating
plates
wrapped around the exxon
stations.
old men, young, unskilled,
anyone with a paper
who had read the ad
came
and tried to do the work.
women with muscles,
skinny with addictions.
retired men with lunch pails.
who couldn't paint?
attrition was swift.
two units a day.
doors, sills, baseboards,
kitchens and baths
all needing the new shine
of oil paint.
you were young then, fast,
strong.
you won the job and lasted
until it was done,
all twenty floors, two weeks
of work.

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