At the knock and sound of my name
I would rise and sit before my father's meal—
fried eggs, grits, link sausage, canned
biscuits—watching him pore over,
then fold, the Morning Herald by his place.
In the still dark we would cross town
in an old Chevy, pick up a man
by name of Whitey or Buck,
and we would sit, three to the bench,
through lightless streets to an old house
below Forest Hills, or some mill-hand's place,
hard against Duke Forest.
Pretty soon, we were roofing, gouging off
the outdated, loose, and rotted shingles,
flinging them over the dark edge,
laying down new ones in tight array,
nail-lined, error-free. We woke
the neighborhoods those Saturdays.
Hammers in holster, we stood in the midst
of rooftops as the colors came on,
first the long-ago rose, then a strange green
as my father, turning, bent to his row
and one by one, from between
his silent lips, pulled the nails.