Chattering, they come for you in the gloom
of dawn. Tarps, chisels, coffee breath.
Hello. Hola. You hide in your highest room,
turn up the Franklin stove, turn up Aretha –
warmth and soul. Drums and horns to drown
the clatter of violent expertise downstairs,
soon. They drape the couch and chairs. They don
their masks. Diligent workers. Urgent repairs.
Someday a specialist will examine you,
scare you, then submit his estimate.
You’ll give permission, flee upstairs and cower.
Below, respectful masked men will do
damage for good. You may remember it –
the morning all went well? – at this late hour.
Originally appeared in American Arts Quarterly and the chapbook The Musician, Approaching Sleep.