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sweating, struggling, we’re lugging
the bin over grass and gravel,
sticks and stones
to the mound of broken trees,

the earth hot and dry like
Hemingway or Steinbeck;
man and boy toiling through
the fading sunlight.

you wait at the edge, eager,
forward and back again as
i shovel mulch and grunt.
your fingers twitch.

dust rises and you cough,
shielding your face
from the grit and sun;
still, you watch

and finally ask, ‘can I?’
of course, though you can’t,
possibly, lift even the blade.
i pass the handle, and you grin.

i wait at the edge, eager,
forward and back again as
you place your hands and grunt,
frowning but not asking for help.

your hands slide forward, seeking
the physics you don’t understand,
and you do, lift. and more, you
shove and lift again,

over your waist, shoulder, head,
blade full by anyone’s measure,
and tip the chips into (mostly)
the bin.

the blade drops with your hands,
clanging on the hard-packed dirt.
you breathe heavy and sigh.
‘I think I’m too little.’