Fog and mist burn off in morning haze, spectral shadows of men
in orange jump suits are silhouetted against eucalyptus trees,
guardians of silence on Noe Street.

They look like an unshackled chain gang, but lean on shovels and rakes,
paid by DPW to repair potholes and craggily roads. They wait for the noon
hour break to recline on stone steps for a stretch of sore backs and a burrito
for lunch.

Fiery licks of flame spill out of a hot combustible machine ready
for the days work to begin. Biodiesel dump trucks unload molten
asphalt cement into a Blaw-Knox paver that roars ahead
as if it was a Panzer Tank, oozing it along like erupting lava.

An Ingersoll-Rand Roller pounds it down, flat as the Al Zubara desert.
When twilight descends, fleckless light of an orange moon shines on
the sheen of a road so nicely macadamed.

The ruddy-faced foreman, an X-marine, barks orders as if he was still
training recruits at Camp Lejeune. Checking his watch for quitting time,
he looks forward to his favorite boilermaker, a snort of Glenfiddich,
with a beer for a chaser.

The scene must have been created by angels for Loden Henry,
a three year old, who sits on the curb silently enthralled, paying
no mind to the stench and flecks of powdery black silt covering his hair.

When he returns to the Panhandle playground with his caravan
of Tonka toys, -- a bulldozer, backhoe and excavator, he will
grunt guttural sounds, mimicking the maelstrom of moving machines
as he gets busy building a road.

Milton P. Ehrlich