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It’s 40 degrees, and windy enough to lift us off the edge of the earth, and this hospital roof, where we drop the heads of metal snakes down stacks, next to exhaust vents carrying the breath of the dying; Cancer, Emphysema, Coronavirus. After we break through, we share the air as the second year lights one up, tells me how ridiculous this is, how it’ll all blow over, as I stare out over the tops of buildings, the plans of homes, Pleasant Kingdom Park, and the monkey bars, swing sets lifting in the breeze. Later, I’ll help him build Starc walls downstairs, tape seams, run the elephant hose above drop ceilings, temporary duct for the sick, ladders, plastic extension cords and air machines to charge the negative air for the Covid-19 Emergency Testing Stations. You should have seen it, man He says, about the killer rock show from last week. That singer, man was out of control and the chicks were everywhere. I want to tell him, there’s more than we’ll ever know we want from this life, but he’s too young to breathe into the void of the real, too young to breathe out the smoke from his mouth while we watch low clouds bloom bruises, the box truck snaking the hill down the ER sign flashing open in neon. At the edge of the lot, the skies are darkening over crested pines, the smoke and blurry heat from Irwin Iron, night’s afterglow, fading into a kind of gleaming that breaks me with its beauty. And suddenly, I’m six again the first July I saw a sky explode into a diadem of stars. But today, the last Sunday in February is a storm cloud rolling into thunder, it’s light, flashing our faces as we run laughing, to our cars, our trucks, reaching for doors, all that wet pounding, hoping all of it stops before we get home.
Robert Walicki is a poet and registered plumber who works in a Pittsburgh hospital.
Copyright 2020 Robert Walicki