Servicing the Windmill
Fifty feet up a Lego ladder you climb
to the platform housing our Aermotor.
Up there in an iron tub, two big gears
are screwing in a bath of oil. Up there
a tail-wind pointer and a ring of silver fins
spins whichever way the weather blows.
In tennies and your one breakable brain
you're climbing I can't count how many
thin peened lacework steps to heaven
in the guise of way-up-there blue space
over a hard, dry November hillside.
To the west, buzzard wings go tilting
Up there you're grease-gunning metal,
glugging two yellow quarts of oil
into the matrix of gears that forever mate
by the winds' whimsy. This is your first time
up there. But now at last
you're letting yourself back down,
tread by tread, your shirt-front filthy-
greasy. You wipe sweat on a rag
and won't take my hand, walking back
to the house. I lead the way to a washbasin,
then turn on the evening news, its large-
scale weather and mass-casualty
disasters. Not our own. Outside,
a west wind turns the vanes, while
lubricated gears mesh, drawing water.
Across the table, this present comfort.
Meatloaf. The two of us for dinner.
Dust Devils in Winter
The power's off. Bundled
into comforters, sipping
Sterno tea in the dark,
I wonder if it's hypothermia
has you recounting last year's
silver-summer miles slipping out
of Tonopah to Goldfield, gritty
landscapes as we headed south
past Beatty to the big LV,
Las Vegas glorying in all its
jackpot lights. In the heat-
shimmer of just getting there,
windows open, dust devils
in the distance, the wind
blew us luck,
we thought. But desert
keeps its own intentions,
and wind makes muscle out of thin
air. If you disturb the dust
it swirls up devils. Tonight
it's cold and no one
can pay the bill.
Trying for Contact
Under a stormy sky you're sweeping
the satellite dish. The TV screen's a perfect
image of the weather: black with snow.
We can't see the nearest neighbor's lamp.
Since dawn the pines have boughed, as they say,
down. All the tracks we've made together
are whited out.
there are stars above snow-clouds;
maybe over South Pacific
they pull apart to show space-bodies
circling so far above us. But tonight
our dish is white porcelain
unpainted with design or dialog or plot.
I switch to SAT G1. The screen
goes absolutely black,
as somewhere in the cold
you go on sweeping.