The man on the roof
yawns at the sky as if he is on speaking terms with it,
then he scratches his naked chest, flicking something away before getting
down to work.
He has emerged like some bearded sea
god, up from the depths to survey
the flat world below
that is almost
beside the point, for he only gives
it a momentary glance.
He is here to measure and affix
a new piece to the broken gutter.
Though he does not see me I fall
in love with the way he strides
on the slant shingles, as if he always lives at such an angle.
In painter’s pants and work boots he is
fearless and without any worry of being seen
whereas I am one of those guarded men who think
some eye is on him at all times and every
action will be judged.
What matters to him is the level and the cut
of the stainless-steel frame and the time
it will take to get the job done. In the gleaming
sunlight, he takes for granted
everything but what he is here to do: he knows the world
will go on without him, his bed can stay unmade, that the cares
of people like me are so much dust in the wind.
He is free above the treetops,
glad for the soundless solitude of somewhere beyond
But when he catches
sight of me he goes still as an animal
that feels the piercing eye and the careful aim.
Like him, I thought that I was
free to claim
what I wanted to be mine.