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Audio: Read by the author.

It’s snowing, and my good friend, who
lost his youngest son a year ago,
has come to help install the new
floodlight above my garage.

Our bare hands redden as we work,
he high on the ladder cutting the old
connections, and I drilling
an outlet hole through the siding.
Watching him run fourteen-gauge wire,

I think how steady he seems, shifting
his weight on the top rung, off meds
now for what, a few months at least,
his eyes clear and shining with fresh snow.

The wind wrapping around the house
is numbing, but he won’t wear gloves
or come inside until he screws in
the junction box and the steel
conduit hangers.

He won’t even look at me, or my wife
tapping on the window, until he’s twisted
the black wires on both ends, then the whites,
taping and capping each pair,

until it’s seven p.m.
and we’ve been out here for hours
with the large flakes building on our shoulders,
drifting across the long gravel drive
that suddenly illuminates
when he tries the switch by the entrance,

the one at the stairs, then back
to the entrance again just to be sure,
while my wife and I
huddle on the porch to watch
his burning fingers turning the night
on, off, on, on.

Robert Claps
’s first book, Casting, is out this February from from Antrim Press. He lives with his wife and rescue dogs in their native Connecticut, where he has spent thirty years in information technology. His poems have appeared in Margie, Tar River Poetry, Two Bridges, and Louisville Review.

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