Three weeks past the end of June,
a blood-pumpkin moon eases below
the rim of the hill pasture a half-mile away.
The last good light of night is gone an hour before dawn
leaving only the dim light of stars
and the aggravating glare of the billboard
a hundred yards away.
Driven to work in the dark
by another night of shortened sleep
and an old love song
that keeps running through my mind,
I find myself rolling up a few hundred feet
of straw erosion mat that I’d used
to start the seeds sown on a section of re-shaped lawn.
Using a hook tool I kept as memento
of my hard shifts building tires at Goodyear Tire & Rubber
in Union City, Tennessee from back in the mid-Seventies,
I pry out the landscape pins
that Randa and I put in two weeks ago,
working in the dark on a Friday night
to beat the rains that came in the next day.
With the pins pulled along all the edges,
I start rolling up the matting,
seven-and-a-half foot by sixty-foot sections
of loosely wound monofilament netting
embedded with stalks of straw.
The air feels cool but working
in ninety percent humidity
will still make you sweat
even if it is only seventy degrees.
An hour of work and four rolls done,
I decide to wait for the morning sun
before pulling up the last two
so I can see whether or not
pulling up the mat
is also pulling up the seedling grass.
I stand beneath the stars
trying to block out the sound of passing cars
and the big-wheeled whine of heavy tires on asphalt,
sorting out thoughts and searching for the meanings
such brief work on a sleepless night.
There are times—I suppose—
when life seems to go a little easier
when we can’t really tell
whether or not some particular project
is causing more harm than good
but it should never be
because we simply refuse to see
that we have chosen to work in the dark
rather than in the light.