THE DAY LABORER

– Gonzalinho da Costa

Fraying at the brim,
A hat with holes
Darkens his face,
Folded and lined.
Beneath long sleeves,
Torn and shabby,
A dirty cotton layer
Shields his arms,
Dusky branches, wizened.
Swinging a pickaxe,
He hacks the ground,
Digging out dirt and rocks
To pay the debts
Of an elephant,
Animal he resembles
As it clambers out of water,
Dripping, shiny, wrinkled.
Filmy, perspiring,
Resting on the long handle
End of his standing tool,
He is almost motionless,
Inert gob of smoldering
Lava in deep time,
Blackened, steaming.
He sighs, heaving for
Ages and ages to come.
Untying his kerchief,
He mops his brow,
Tilts his head upward,
Blinks, fluttering eyelids,
Tremulous insects…
Sees nothing
But the sun.

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