"Waiting for Lumber"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 16 2002 1:05 PM

Waiting for Lumber

Listen to Mark Turpin reading "Waiting for Lumber" Somehow none of us knew exactly what time it was supposed to come. So there we were, all of us, five men at how much an hour given to picking at blades of grass, tossing pebbles at the curb, with nothing in the space between the two red cones, and no distant downshift of a roaring truck grinding steadily towards us uphill. Someone thought maybe one of us should go back to town to call, but no one did, and no one gave the order to. It was as if each to himself had called a kind of strike, brought a halt, locked out any impulse back to work. What was work in our lives anyway? No one recalled a moment of saying yes to hammer and saw, or anything else. Each looked to the others for some defining move—the way at lunch without a word all would start to rise when the foreman closed the lid of his lunchbox—but none came. The senior of us leaned against a peach tree marked for demolition, seemed almost careful not to give a sign. And I, as I am likely to do—and who knows, but maybe we all were—beginning to notice the others there, and ourselves among them, as if we could be strangers suddenly, like those few evenings we had chosen to meet at some bar and appeared to each other in our street clothes—that was the sense— of a glass over another creature's fate. A hundred feet above our stillness on the ground we could hear a breeze that seemed to blow the moment past, trifling with the leaves; we watched a ranging hawk float past. It was the time of morning when housewives return alone from morning errands. Something we had all witnessed a hundred times before, but this time with new interest. And all of us felt the slight loosening of the way things were, as if working or not working were a matter of choice, and who we were didn't matter, if not always, at least for that hour.

Mark Turpin is a carpenter. His first volume of poems, Nailer, appears in Take Three: Agni New Poets Series No. 2.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

Even by Russian Standards, Moscow’s  Anti-War March Was Surprisingly Grim

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 11:13 AM Your Own Personal Rand Paul How the libertarian hero makes his foreign policy contradictions disappear.
Sept. 22 2014 12:07 PM Divestment Isn’t the Answer To destroy demand for fossil fuels, universities can do a lot better than just selling some stocks.
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 12:00 PM Dear Prudence Live Chat For September 22, 2014.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 11:32 AM South Park Takes on Washington’s NFL Team and Its Terrible Name
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Robot Plants Are the Latest in a Long Line of Robot Thingies
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Two Impacts, One Landslide… on Mercury
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.