Sweeping changes

at fifteen, I think,
friend said “I hear you got a job”
“whaddya do?”
“I sweep”, I said,
and Buddy laughed his donkey laugh.
I felt a little small.
“You’ll be climbin’ the ladder real quick, har har!”
But, self taught I was,
minimal supervision. Wounded pride and all.

At thirty,
sweeping changes came to my life.
I now wore ten hats,
took home a briefcase full of work some nights.
Guess I had climbed the ladder a bit.
Still I swept.
When deadlines hung over us,
we worked until the bell, and after.
I sent the guys home,
and I swept.

I had a boss
who had big responsibilities,
for our plant and for others.
He came out back once,
saw some of our guys sweeping,
grabbed one of their brooms,
showed them the correct way,
embarrassed everyone, including himself.
Yelling, waving his arms.
As fate would have it,
our company president witnessed the show,
made as if he didn’t see it.
After that, Captain Queeg was sacked.

The worst thing I ever swept up
was a cocoon of dead kittens,
all stiff,
born in a pile of skids.
Thrown onto the floor.

And now, today, I sweep the back hallway,
where my own kittens do their business.
Finally I have learned to use the knees,
not the back.
Trouble is, the knees are going.
Soon now, soon, I will have to hand over the broom to another.
Maybe sweeping will change them, too.

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