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in Environment by

This morning, beneath a haze
of sunlight, they trench the earth
on the vacant lot across the street.
A 4-bedroom, 3-garage with a lake
view, city permitted, ready to rise.
A man with bandana leans
beside the rumbling truck, sweat
contouring his brow. Thumps
a leather glove against the chained
load and tells me tales of no pitting,
no corrosion, offering a pure
working soul’s homage to polyvinyl
chloride. Superior to copper
or galvanized steel, it will persist
without flaw, flex, keep
its peace should the earth quake.

“Gonna last a hundred years.”

He bootprints his way past,
leaving me to stare at clods,
wish I could return ten decades
from now and be the one to turn
the tap, the liquid testimony still
pouring out, urging the coolness
of liberty and not submitting
to anything but engineered
efficiencies routed underground.
My glass filling up with the sheen
of life that coats a thirsty throat
and inspires a person to look out
a window at the scoured desert
where the wind blows its own low
tune, whipping whiskers of sand
against abandoned bricks, stones,
the shallow wells of our intentions
mounding over grain by grain.
So different from today when
I notice the cloud puffs linking arms
at the horizon, hear welcome
drumbeats of thunder. Then comes
the rain and all of us take shelter.


Albert Haley is a past winner of the Rattle Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Poems & Plays, The Texas Review, Borderlands, and other journals. He lives in Abilene, Texas.

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