A hot dry day in early fall…
The men have cut the vines
from the shutters, and scraped
the clapboards clean, and now
their heads appear all day
in all the windows . . .
their arms or shirtless torsos,
or a rainbow-speckled rag
swinging from a belt.

They work in earnest—
these are the last warm days.
Flies bump and buzz
between the screens and panes,
torpid from last night’s frost:
the brittle months advance ...
ruts frozen in the icy drive,
and the deeply black and soundless
nights. But now the painters

lean out from their ladders, squint
against the light, and lay on
the thick white paint.
From the lawn their radio predicts rain,
then cold Canadian air ....
One of them works way up
on the dormer peak,
where a few wasps levitate
near the vestige of a nest.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 3 Number 2, on page 44
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