with myself in these last stretches,
pushing a load of dirt in a wheelbarrow..
Almost winter: the ground hard and cold.
There is growth, though it’s that shade
of evergreen— of what persists from sheer,
hard-knuckled will. After rain, I know
I’ll rake the dry needles, countless
fallen asterisks of brown and pomegranate
from the Japanese maple. I don’t love
labor that seems to offer itself
only as proof of reward we can’t see,
as ticket to some afterlife. And yet I do it
anyway. Who will make toast in the morning,
put on coffee to boil, take a sleeve
of meat from ice to thaw upon the counter,
slice tomatoes into rings? I don’t know
if love is slower than time, or if happiness
comes finally after the greatest,
longest sorrow. When you gather leaves
into lawn bags, if you press down, there is
still always a little room for more.