The Sweeper

Byron Webb

Night arrives with a handful of hard stars
to throw in the deeps of the blueblack vault.
Hands cold, feet numb, with a worn push broom
my father sweeps the lot of Guardian Glass.
The bristles slide over the frigid blacktop
while the factory smokes from a spotlit stack,
and the wide world falls asleep in black dust.
Breathing into his cold, cupped hands now will not
warm them, nor his brittle, cracked lips,
but a black cup of coffee waits beyond the door,
behind the vendor glass, steaming. And stars
will give way to the warmer fires of morning.
Slowly clearing the lot of shards and dust,
he is the world awake, alive, a tiny man
trembling in his coat, coughing in his sleeve.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro
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BYRON WEBB earned his MFA in writing from the University of Oregon and his PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where he held the Michener Fellowship. His work has appeared in Ontario Review, Western Humanities Review, Two Rivers Review, and others. He currently lives and teaches in Houston.