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Contents Page: July 1, 2011, vol 7 no 2

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Glenn G. Coats

 

Operation Mainstream

record heat
my mind full
of mistakes

Rochelle is a builder and Jay is a farmer. They know tools, know how to fix things. The rest of us are not carpenters. The crew is made up of unemployed men from the mountains, a handful of seminarians, and a few boys from the college. Rochelle shows us what to do and lets us give it a go. There are houses up on stilts that need blocks of concrete to stand on. Broken steps lead to broken doors, broken windows. Roofs with holes wide enough to see the stars. Rochelle steps back to look at our work and says, "Let me look at it with a crooked eye." There is no charge to the mountain people for the work we do.

bright sun
I hammer my thumb once more
for good measure

At lunch, we fall like apples beneath trees. The juice and sandwiches are warm. Heat is oppressive. One of the seminarians peppers a local man with questions about the bible. Buster nods and blinks back at him like an owl. I should tell him to lay off, leave Buster alone. I don't.

In the evening, we drop Buster off in front of his house. A sway-backed hound lumbers off the porch to meet him. Rochelle says Buster's wife and kid left some time back. He doesn't know where they are. For supper, he'll open spaghetti then put the can on a frying pan to heat. Saves doing dishes.

Tonight is a tent revival near Hot Springs. Buster will put on a clean white shirt (long sleeves) and walk with his bible along the creek. "Not an evil bone in his body," Rochelle says. "Buster knows every hymn by heart. The poor soul can't read a blessed word."

the Bible holds
sweat from his hands
evening shadows


Note: "record heat" reprinted from the Winter Moon Awards for Haiku 2009

 

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