has been called a Mexican Backhoe, as have I. This, I always hoped,
was a tribute to strong hearted labor. And I know that those
who use the expression sometimes do not mean it this way. But mine
has been a relationship with physical work that takes its loyalty from
those who do more than sit in the shade and sneer and eat french-fries
with their diet coke. So I have great respect for the
The wheelbarrow we use has
tribulation in its past. It once belonged to a stone mason who took
pride in his faith and somewhere from within his heritage he had found the
idea that he could not work for 'Jews or Blacks'. He had this
wheelbarrow new. It was red and clean and without rust, not even a
hint of mortar. One day as he was driving home, this shiny new
wheelbarrow leapt from the back of his truck and found itself in the back
of my truck. And ever since this wheelbarrow has lived disguised by
colors Aztecs might have enjoyed.
Sometimes, in that satanic hall the
hardware store, I wander by the wheelbarrows and I am tempted by
newness. You can get them in parts. Handles, wheels, beds.
I can picture myself with the wrench applying torque to the bolts so they
bite into new wooden handles. Pumping up the tire, bouncing it like a
baby. And I am filled by a guilt that I will call Herculean.
Not because of something as mundane as
theft, but because I am disloyal to an old friend who recently I have been
abusing with all those parts that go to make concrete edging. He is
too rusty now to beat with a hammer and I am wary of those acids the devil
sells near the trowels with rubber handles, just this side of the levels
that can disable the eyesight with laser beams.
This guilt, however, becomes Herculean because
it extends beyond new wheelbarrow lust into some part of me that some might
record as preternatural. Disturbing in the way that does not resolve
itself by examination because it belongs to a greater beast that has found a
home in me.
The concrete mixer, was already rusty
when it walked my way. It is heavy beyond imagination. It has an
electric engine that when properly greased effortlessly turns gallons of
gravel and sand, and even though it is not a backhoe it makes hard work
almost complacent. And guilty I am because despite the many years of
our association, this concrete mixer and I have never been