Proposal

This is just a rough estimate of what I think
I can do it for, since the apron is cracked
and I can’t tell without digging how far down
the footing goes, if there is one. Why I’ll do it
I don’t know, except I have to keep everybody
working, and though I have no interest whatsoever
in your homely problem, I’ll start the job next week,
haul away the wall, dig it out, set the forms, then
wait to pour concrete, wait for that to set up,
strip the forms, let it dry, cure the weekend,
then do one step a day for days, like painting
the wall with sky-blue Weld-Crete, then wait for that
to dry before slapping on the scratch coat,
which takes more time to make and clean up
than it does to trowel on, then wait for that to dry
before putting on two more separate coats
of stucco until we reach an inch, hoping all along
that it doesn’t freeze for two days each coat,
and you’ll be wondering what’s taking so long,
and why don’t I just finish, and it’ll look like
nothing got done anyway, and you’ll end up complaining
about a stain on the driveway, or a cracked shingle
where the mixer was within 75’ of the house,
while I wish you never called, or wish again
I’d run away from the job and all jobs like it,
because I knew from the beginning it was a losing
situation, where the bill will always be too high
(“. . . a little more than we expected . . . we talked
about.”) a little better than breaking even for me,
if you count the hours going back and forth,
or the days we’d quit early, rather than going back
to a job or starting something new: to do something
you can’t see—footings four feet down, ½” steel
in an 8” grid, all tied into the existing foundation.

And you’ll be forever finding the time to send
a check, which will include a 15% markup
on materials, which you’ll scream about, which is
supposed to cover overhead and profit in a real business,
but which is really just a way to keep my backyard
filled with chipped brick and wet bags of cement
and mortar that will tear the next time
I’m heading out to do a small job on the weekend,
while you’re placing a full drink down on the wall,
wondering still if it’s really plumb, level, and true,
while the blue pond spreads a shivery trail to the ocean.

PLEASE PAY $900.00 On Account.
“On account of what?” On account
of only money wets the mix.

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