Follow Me

Everybody loves me.
The flagger takes the brunt of it,
standing there with nothing but
a yellow vest and a stick with a stop sign
on top between him and a Panzer division
of former FEMA motel moms and
hitch-hiker dads, briefcase in one hand,
gas can in the other,
finally back in their homes
now stuck in line in the canyon
while we move heaven and earth for them
blasting and scooping and pile driving the highway
back to better than it used to be.

The flagger really would rather be
one of those lollygaggers with a shovel
who scoop up stray shrapnel tumbled
down the fresh scree onto the roadway
so he’d at least have the luxury of motion
to keep his feet from freezing to the
scarred tarmac.

You can smell the impatience build
hear the accidental tooting of a horn
as they nudge closer to one another
when all of a sudden I appear
leading a convoy from the other direction
tuck in beside the flagger and we pretend
to talk to supervisors on our radios.

Renewed hope starts a few engines
as soon as I turn around,
magazines and laptops are stowed in
anticipation of the flagger turning his sign to
Slow and following my flashers
past the cones, around reclaimed roadbed
and newly erected retaining walls,
down into the valley for supplies,
pick up the kids, and even if
they have to stop again along the way
for a dump truck to finish loading
it’ll be OK because they’re already
on their way past it.

© 2014 Jim Ramsay, all rights reserved.