for Paul Harshman
They start when the sun is a lemondrop
on the tongue of morning’s yawning mouth.
Their boots beat low, echoing notes
on aluminum rungs while they climb
to peaks, to dormers that rain and wind
have rubbed dim. Dropcloths—like fallen,
vandalized banners—cover the bushes, blacktop
and patio. They shed their shirts near noon
and a housewife, who has wiped her jugulars
with lavender, brings them sweet tea and lets
her eyes tarry on their arms and backs.
Under gutters, they spray bees’ nests
with foam and knock the poisoned combs
to the ground with the butt of a brush.
Once the job is done, all the tools return
to racks and hooks in the truck, then the men
clean with pumice and damp rags, they share
a haggard laugh, and they drive slowly back
to lives that at first will flinch from their touch.