the tamper and the ugly fence

I still have the tamper to return to the rental store, but right now–this moment–feels the way it feels after a long rain. Sweet, fine air. 

Even though the day started the opposite of fine when I woke inside a bomb blast. Clothes hangers and Kindle, yardsticks and journals on my bed. Do I really sleep like this? The reality of me in daylight is interrupted by Fence Man knocking at my front door. Just as promised, he is here to help with my fence. Work gloves and a fencing hat. Fifty feet of welded fabric. And seven, heavy gauge T-posts.

But he sets out only five. Here, here, there. He pauses. Then: here and here. Like that. And what I do is squint and think. I rearrange his posts and squeeze in two more. Like so: there and here. When he sees me do this, he nods: Micro Woman.

Ya ya, if you want all seven, have seven.

Such a blessing, I think. The way he laughs and doesn’t punish me for my own thinking. I’m not used to this. And when the sledge hammer fails to appear in my garage, it’s not a problem for this man. And when I unfold a six-inch footstool, thinking it might help with pounding 68″ poles with a puny hammer: Still the calm disposition. Like the sixty-year-old cashier at the grocer’s yesterday. Glittered red hair, cakes of blue eye shadow, belly-flopping across the conveyor belt to point her UPC gun at the case of  camping water bottles in my cart.

I’m lucky I used to be in gymnastics, she confided, toes pointed, and adding how the job kept her from saggy Popeye biceps. And how the five silver crosses hanging from her neck keep her grateful for small things. She could be like the Louisiana professional she heard about on the National News. He hasn’t had a job in over three years. Imagine that, she taps in the code for red peppers on her cash register, three years of making do.

 And now in the case of making do, of the missing sledge hammer–no leverage and no weight–we are off to the nearest rental store for a proper T-post-pounder.

Bam Bam–the posts are each sunk eighteen inches. My job is to pull the wire fabric tight. With one hand he pulls it tighter than I can with two hands and my Let Me Prove I Can Do It stubbornness. He doesn’t say: Is that all you can do? Not once.

And when we are done, we stand back to admire our work. It feels good. The 12-gauge-wire fence is ugly, yes. But when Fence Man releases the come-along he had rigged to anchor my neighbor’s gorgeous, but failing wooden fence, it immediately lists forty-five degrees. One more gust of wind and that fence will be gone. But now my pups are safe.

The wind can’t blow ugly down, I tell the Fence Man. And when he laughs and doesn’t correct me, I feel lighter. Blessed.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

6 responses to “the tamper and the ugly fence

  1. not sure which i like better, this:
    And now in the case of making do, of the missing sledge hammer–no leverage and no weight–we are off to the nearest rental store for a proper T-post-pounder.
    or this:
    The wind can’t blow ugly down, I tell the Fence Man. And when he laughs and doesn’t correct me, I feel lighter. Blessed.
    or the cashier!

    or the doggies.
    the doggies, dogs are the best.

    you always make me laugh and you always give me that crying feeling in my chest.

    • redmitten

      mm- why thank you- i pretty much move through life with that laugh and crying pain all the time, too! in doing this fence, it occurred to me how nice it is, this simple thing to work with someone where i can think how i think and be how i be and not be stifled. this wasn’t always the case for me. i’m really liking the store clerk and made a note of which cash register she works as i plan to revisit the store just to be in her line.

  2. Katy

    Ok I get this one. I was so completely hung up on the fact that the fence was listing at 45 degrees and y’all left it like that, until I realized the OLD fence was listing, not the new one. I had a serious engineer heart attack there before reading comprehension kicked in. 😉 Not that crooked fences are bad, just…as long as they stand up to wind i guess. lol

    This reminds me of the people who live down the road from me. They have a wire cattle fence surrounding their little goat pasture. The goats keep getting their heads stuck in the fence and then the sheepdog molests them. I was seriously traumatized – is it better to be safe from the traffic or be able to get away from the perverts? If I were that goat I’d rather run headlong into the path of a truck.

    I’m sure your dogs are safe behind your fences. Too cute!

    • kmerrifi

      And I feel lighter, blessed by the reading. Mmmm.

    • redmitten

      katy- oh man you make me laugh! and you would have loved the tamper man at the rental store (when i finally got around to returning it). my daughter hadn’t realized there were tool rental stores and since she’s learned this she is all lit up about visiting the one near our homes. she wants to do woodwork with….pallets! and i told her about what you’ve done. the other day we had to haul 5 dead trees to the dump and when we got there- she was so upset to see someone had dumped a ton of pallets! what a waste! and they appeared to be untreated.

      now, about that wire cattle fence and those poor goats! what a situation! i’d rather run headlong into traffic, too, than spend anymore time in my life being abused. and yeah, my pups are safe again and this wire fence is one that charlie the chewer won’t be able to chew down (which is another post i’ve not yet written.)

and then you said:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 51 other followers

%d bloggers like this: