Responsibilities

River waters.
River waters.

They gaze upon the

Cryptic list of seemingly

Asinine chores that

They do without thought,

Tasks that have become

Automatized

As if they were key-wound

Machines from days long gone

That would conceal a coin

Or write in cursive script.

Check one, check two,

But nothing for check today,

So the brothers quickly read

In fading light

Which activity they will

Pull me along to

As I stand in the frame

Of my wooden curtain

Listening to pigeons coo

In the attic above.

The younger and shorter

Pulls me out from the darkness

Into the buzzing light

To grab a metal drum,

Free of rust,

And a homemade cart

With two crooked wheels

And a handle for toting

Taller than he.

Bumping across the field

We reach a tire

Next to a trough of dirty water,

But beneath the tire

Lay a depth lined with

Spiraling rubber

And clumps of earth.

A metal bucket tied to

A blue string

Begins its descent into

The known unknown

Of what lays beneath

This patch of untilled soil.

Wet sounds and gurgles,

Heavier up than it was down.

Towards home we shuffle

In silence

Propping the cart on

The first step

To slide off

For the older brother to then

Carry to wherever it is

He carries the water

That I use to cleanse myself

Of another day.

Composed 06/21/2012

Author’s note: I learned how to fetch water with my family. We had a checklist of chores and activities to complete with our host families. My family didn’t really know this was the case, but they caught on eventually. Sometimes, they would go to the river to fill up their drums, but they were in possession of their own small well concealed behind weeds in an untilled lot that hosted the rusted old field tractor. I never went with them to the river.

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