Porters Waited At Every Gate

Clothed in stained shirts and ragged jeans,
They cluster beneath the orange sign:
Sunburnt men, laughing and smiling,
Sharing a smoke, pacing the lawn
At the corner of Home Depot
Where customers pick up lumber.

These men have heard it all, how white folk
Complain that they stole all their jobs.
Hey, if you want a job, come here
Outside with your bronze skinned brothers,
Waiting optimistically
To be grabbed for a random chore —

Could be home repair, lawn care,
Or laboring out in the fields.
They’ll smile, grin, withstand dirty looks
‘Cause that house ain’t building itself.
Porters waiting at every gate;
They might not depart from their service.

Note: the last two lines came from 2 Chronicles 35:15. The poem was inspired by my mother-in-law, who saw a cluster of laborers at Home Depot and mentioned how Biblical it was. She meant that from the earliest days of time, people have been waiting at the gates of a city, hoping to get picked up for a job. Only these days, that gate is Home Depot.


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