Ted Kooser: American life in poetry

On a perfect Labor Day, nobody would have to work, and even the "associates" in the big box stores could quit stocking shelves. Well, it doesn't happen that way, does it?

But here's a poem about a Labor Day that's really at rest, by Joseph Millar from North Carolina.

Labor Day

Even the bosses are sleeping late

in the dusty light of September.

The parking lot's empty and no one cares.

No one unloads a ladder, steps on the gas

or starts up the big machines in the shop,

sanding and grinding, cutting and binding.

No one lays a flat bead of flux over a metal seam

or lowers the steel forks from a tailgate.

Shadows gather inside the sleeve

of the empty thermos beside the sink,

the bells go still by the channel buoy,

the wind lies down in the west,

the tuna boats rest on their tie-up lines

turning a little, this way and that.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2012 by Millar from his most recent book of poems, "Blue Rust" (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012).

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