Hardhat of weathered bone.
He barely looks my way
as he shoves his front-end loader
into gear, scoops up a bucket-
ful of bills and ledger sheets,
dumps them on the moving belt.
I've brought a trunkload of books
passed down by mothers,
A Heap
O' Livin', Drifter's Gold.
From the backseat I lift out bags
of letters sorted, white and
colored, aunt-by-marriage
in Pennsylvania, an old lover -
last postmark 1968. The operator
wheels past a bin of rusty
chain. I can see the metacarpals
through his gloves. Scrap steel
pays 10 cents a pound; mixed
aluminum, 36. How much
for memories? A day in June
weighs so much less than
a sardine can. Where, I wonder,
do the skulls go, the wedding
rings and tooth fillings?
When I'm done getting rid of
it all, I hand him my slip
of paper to sign.
He sighs - three more hours
on this shift.