Summer Job

— Joshua Bennett

For all we knew, there was no such thing as wealth
management internships sponsored by a father’s Harvard
roommate, or else some Fifth Avenue gig running
iced coffee for fashionistas an hour’s ride away
from where we stood, the darkest thing for miles,

trash collection claws extending from our sleeves
like some late 80’s cyborg fantasy. We were bored
out of our brains, unlettered, though sharp enough
to know our place in the grander proletarian scheme:
a pair of scholarship kids paid to maintain campus

while our peers tried their hands at college physics,
American industry, psychedelics, and road trips
to the mid-west with friends, all while Devin and I
stood in our standard-issue jumpsuits, adding, without
irony, another coat of white paint to the cafeteria walls.

There were no small metal gods in our pockets then;
no machines to thread us into the invisible world, and so
we passed entire mornings listening to the ceremonies
of birds we couldn’t name as we traversed the sides
of the highway, each step perfecting our soon-to-be

flawless technique, dodging carrion, dividing paper waste
from condoms and bottles of Coors, just the way Jay taught
us our first day on-call. I spent most breaks in the rift
between observation and dreams, pulling music from the filthy
tales each older man on the maintenance crew cast like a cure

into the mind of the other. Folklore filling the desolate
lecture halls where we took lunch, laughing as we traded
one tradition for another. No future worth claiming apart
from that broken boiler in the next building, blackbirds
trapped in the gutter-way, getting pipes fixed before fall.


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