Saturday in April, Afternoon
I built a grill today,
This afternoon for ninety minutes,
As clouds closed in out of the graying southwest
Utterly absorbed in the frustrations and eventual successes of the task
(Just how many hands do those technical artists,
For surely no writer was involved with those inimical instructions,
Think one consumer has? I needed three several times).
Old body, fat, barely able to elude gravity,
Elevating from knees and ass, knuckles grinding familiar pain,
Found new ways to get at what I had to do.
We grilled shrimp, be-pestoed, after leaving all three fires roaring full out
For fifteen minutes,
As instructed on the page of tiny print that followed
In the folio-huge Owner’s Manual booklet
The sixteen drawings of the constructive steps,
Which weren’t, let’s stress again, stages to madness
Today, at any rate. Infuriating only sometimes, too.
Eating, I came to wonder how many more grills I’ll put together.
Will this be the last? Pray not. Avert! Away!
(It spattered little droplets to quickly steam upon the black lid,
But no rain — thunder without storm. Again.)
I’ve done how many now? Five? Eight? A dozen surely not.
I never had a grill (well, there was a little charcoal thing way back
Even in the days of the Colonial house where the bathroom leaked
We rented back at the time my father died, alone,
Crushed under the van whose brakes he wished to warm
That year, just days before Christmas. Stephen phoned me
With the news while I was at work.
I took the call in the superintendent’s office, which was on the corner
That half flight down from my room then.) until we moved here.
But that was over thirty years ago. (We’ve really lived here that long
Now. The mortgage was paid off half a decade back.
You are retired now, longer than you’ve had to pay your own
Property taxes yourself, no escrow any more.)
With each new grill, it seems there’s more I need to do
And less the manufacturer has put together first —
This one without a propane tank.
Shall I finally take time and care to keep this one going,
Cleaning the grates, scraping out the greasy droppings
From the currently unencrusted bottom?
Make this one last?
Until the night has me for supper and the property,
Possessions — books, electronics, clothes and all whatevers —
Cease to matter.
Not too soon.
— Sunday, 18/04/2015
The grill today, two years later. The interior is burnt-fat-encrusted, but the grates are clean.