“Charity” by Susan McMaster

Susan McMaster


The light morning slivers and glitters through crab
apples frozen and sweet as clumps of pin
cherries to a flock of chickadees—

But I don’t chase the sun outside except to meet
the big white truck that pulls up to our door
to deliver our new dryer, two lank smiling guys
with strong crafty shoulders and crinkled eyes.

“That fridge? Does it work?” one asks, pushing
the trolley along the path we forced through junk
piled high in the garage. “There’s a family we know
could use such a thing …”

It’s a good one, almost new:
I should ask my husband first.

“Sure, give us a call … If you want, we could take
that old washing machine too, there’s always someone
who needs one. Just think, all that space …?”

What the heck! Take them both.
Happy new year!

When they’re gone, I mooch
through rooms upstairs, wrap presents, answer cards.
Only then notice the sun’s gone in, blocked by a matte
grey shield of storm.

The smiles on their faces, their speed as they lifted
the fridge and the washer into the truck.
What kind of jerk am I, to pick up the phone?

“Don’t worry, I’m sure they were telling the truth.
We do that sometimes. They’re working for us.”

The space in the garage seems to call for more.
I could throw out all the rest of this stuff,
throw it out, or give it away,
leave room for nothing but sun,

but a truckful of sun
rolling in on a trolley
heaped with morning
through the
open         door.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
Tribute to Canadian Poets


Susan McMaster: “So we’ve had two basement floods and a broken pipe in the garage, which together swept out a lot of garbage. But we’ve also had two daughters leave home, a mother die, a friend move north, a sister empty her locker—plus our own constant flood of books books books and more junk. I think of myself as generous and trusting—so why hold on to garage-stuffing monsters that could help someone else—or even make a few bucks on the side for a working Joe? Maybe this poem is about shame …” (web)

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