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  • That's the Job, and: Someone Is Always Shouting, and: The Task
  • Edward Hirsch (bio)

That's the Job

That's the job, he said,shrugging his shouldersand running his handthrough his hair, like Dante,or a spiderthat knows its web,That's just the job,he repeated stubbornlywhenever I complainedabout working the night shiftin hundred-degree heat,or hauling my assover the humpfor a foul-mouthed dispatcheryelling at usover a loudspeaker,or riding the cabof an iron dungeoncreeping over bumpy railsto a steel millrising out of the smogin Joliet or Calumet Citywhere we headedto track downa few hundred giantsin chains clanking togetheron rusty wheelsfor dragging homeand uncouplingat the clearing yard [End Page 49] loaded with emptyfreight carswaiting to be loadedwith more freight,because that's the job.

Someone Is Always Shouting

Moon-head is shouting at meto back the fuck upon the forkliftI am trying to jabinto a towerof wooden palletsstacked all the wayto the sprinklerslaid out under the roofof the warehousewhere I am strugglingto control the prongsof a monsterand avoid dousingeveryone on the floorof E. H. Sargent & Co.,my summer in chemicals,the school where I learnedthat someoneis always shoutingat someone else on the jobto back the fuck up. [End Page 50]

The Task

You never expectedto spend so many hoursstaring down an empty sheetof lined paperin the harsh inner lightof an all-night diner,ruining your heartover mug after mugof bitter coffeeand reading Meister Eckhartor Saint John of the Crossor some other mysticof nothingnessin a brightly colored boothnext to a windowlooking outat a deserted off-rampor unfinished bridgeor garishly lit parking lotbacking upon Detroit or Houstonor some other cityforsaken at three a.m.with lonersand insomniacsfacing the darknessof an interminable nightthat stretched into monthsand years. [End Page 51]

Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch's most recent book is Gabriel: A Poem.



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pp. 49-51
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