:: The Shop // J Rutzen


Sometimes, half asleep on the lumpiest mattress,
The cracks in the plaster wall
Look like helicopters or spaceships
When you have grown tired of
The reruns of late 70s sitcoms
On the small black and white television set
That only works when the antenna is in exactly the right spot. 
In fact, the antenna is really an old screwdriver
Held on with bits of wire and tinfoil,
Gathering unseen signals that have been flying around
For decades


The back room is full of ancient machines
That you want to take apart and study
Hoses and wheels and belts and gears and wires. 
Grandpa and dad,
Cutting and crushing
Blocks of rubber
Mixing chemical dusts and stretching long sheets
To be drawn and scraped and clipped
and cinched and vulcanized
Into something for sick people. 

You wonder if the doctors ever want to take apart people
Like you want to take apart the machines. 
To see inside and understand
How and why
We work


If you stand on a bucket, you can watch
Through the window, 
Across the grass in the empty lot next door
Where a building stands, full of people coming and going,
Up and down brown, peeling balconies
Into their homes. 
In between the fences, wild flowers grow amid
Strewn clothes and bits of glass that glint in the
Sunlight, making different patterns as the day goes on. 
You can stand on the bucket until
Dad needs to use it at the end of the day. 
When he starts to mop,
You wander around the shop
Gathering up your books
And your action figures and your blanket to put
Into your backpack
Knowing if you forget something
It will still be here tomorrow.



J Rutzen currently calls 60625 home.

This piece was written about a home-place in 60618.