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Iron Wheels

As I push the heavily loaded cart with sacks of concrete across the shopping center parking lot, its iron wheels threaten the asphalt, already softened by an oppressive sun.  At my truck, I lift each dusty sack onto the open bed, causing the leaf-springs to creak and lower proportionately.

    Across the lot, a man about my age walks sideways out the barber shop doorway.  In his arms, he carries like a baby a newly-shorn boy of about twelve—his son, I figure—who wears thick glasses with a band to hold them, and drool down his chin.  The boy’s arms and legs jut out awkwardly, like bent antennae, purveying a haywire inability to function and support.

    As they cross the asphalt, the man speaks to the boy, probably complimenting how nice he looks with his new haircut, just as I would my son.  Into the passenger side of a SUV parked in the handicapped space, the man straps the boy into the seat with the dexterity of someone who is repeating the process for the umpteenth time.

    Almost forgotten in my arms, I drop another sack of concrete onto the bed of my truck.  A small cloud of dust rises, and the leaf-springs creak in protest.

Previously published in:, Summer Issue, 7/’09;, Summer Issue 011, 7/’08;, Penman Lounge, 11/23/’07.