Sweeper Man


When it rains,
At last the rain,
He goes to his secret place
Behind the dumpster
And gets his broom,
Old, worn and stiff
But still good for sweeping the water on its way.

He sweeps the gutters,
Sweeps trash and leaves into the river’s flow,
Sweeps the water,
Speeding the motion,
The sound.

He is a tool of nature,
Called by God
To do this work,
To help with the cleansing,
The cleansing of it all.

Standing near a busy intersection
He works
And the sound of his furious sweeping echoes.
He is not self-conscious,
He is proud of his job,
Called at last in this year of drought,
Called to do this work.

An underfed scarecrow of indeterminate age,
Eyes ablaze with obsession,
Leather face taught with purpose,
He wears a long, dark coat,
So wet and wetter,
A woolen cap with ear flaps,
And galoshes — galoshes!
Where on Earth did he get those yellow galoshes?

There is too little rain in this place
To wait for rain
And so he sweeps whenever he is called,
But it is futile, desperate work
When all is dust and dirt and dust.

Nevermind,
For the drought is over today,
At last,
And God has called him
To help with the cleansing,
The washing away,
All the jumbled years,
The wandering days,
The frightened nights
Trying to sleep,
To sleep and dream
His favorite dream
Of a world washed clean,
A world swept clean,
Everyone and everything
Starting over again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
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