the essence in the flesh

how many freezing winds has winter breathed in this man’s face to carve lines so finger deep? and when did these twisted, ashen roots spring forth to replace his fingers? these could not be the fingers of his youth. even young man’s hands do not play claw as well as these. it is these claws that must have filled his mouth with hay. his voice is thick with paper, kicking out of his throat with every bullet sentence.

still, he is the cardboard delivery man who looks the most like a cardboard delivery man. his coat, his hat, his boots, are the clothes of his profession. the snow knows to ignore shoulders sloped like his, the cold has given up its assault on his toes. his hands, twisted as they are, lift and push the cardboard as if we were meant to watch this. and his voice, grappling its way down the shotgun of his throat, barks orders so efficient we begin to learn dance like him.

under his strict guidance, the back of the truck blazes and we all turn lightbulb, so fast are we firing cardboard onto the dock and into the warehouse. the cold turns around and goes home. our aching arms stop creaking so loud. our grease remembers what it is here for. it takes mere minutes to empty the truck, so cardboard delivery man is this delivery man.

when he goes home, does he keep everything on the counter in order to avoid opening a single box? does his wife massage lotion into his shriveling skin? does he throw off his beaten clothes and drape himself in furs? I imagine instead that he sleeps on a stack of cardboard. that he loves the smell. that he knows he is the best, and proudly teaches his child grace, waltzing boxes back and forth across the living room.

and if he ever dies, and I wonder if it is possible, I imagine him buried in a box made of cardboard. I imagine

he would want it that way.

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3 thoughts on “the essence in the flesh

  1. I love the question posed here. How much of our work to we take home with us? How much do we want to leave behind at the end of the day, and what parts of it do we love? What do we share with our families? What do we carry with us? What do we avoid? This poem let me break the assumption that some jobs are less favorable or lovable. It let me see that it’s more about the point of view of the worker. I enjoyed visualizing this old man with the deep winkles loving the median that he works with, like a practical artist.

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