40. Dusters

Dirt crackled in their teeth.
The storm blew in, blew out.
The next one came,
Undoing all their chores:
Yanking flapping laundry
From the line, winding it
On leafless shrubs, unhinging
Gates, warping chicken wire.
Each time they went out,
To hammer joints,
To right fenceposts,
To make things straight.
Each time, fenceposts leaned
A little more.

Their eyes, expert
At gauging wear, observed their homes
Age five years in one year.
Porch-boards buckled.
Window sashes sagged.
Housefronts took on a dazed,
Querulous cast, but
They could not repair
Five times as fast–they
Tried, scaled the roof, tacking
Tar-paper that the next gale
Scraped to rags.

Too many dusters.
Too much wind. More
Than they’d seen. To keep
Balance, people lost their
Straightness, slanting post-like,
Bearing parcels, in the storm.
Outdoors, they’d shout to chat,
Hooked themselves into sharp
Corners, hands on hats.
Weather, it was weather.
It could not be got around.
The wind blew as it liked,
And they would bend.

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