Working in the Dark

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.

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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