In the dirty gray dawn, you come
Rumbling down slush- choked streets
Asphalt scraping, mighty orange plow clearing a majestic white swath as you
Sit there, high in the cab
NASCAR cap pulled low, walrus mus- tache, beefy hand clutching a 16-ounce cup of Royal Farm coffee ...
Pack of Winstons on the dash.
Who are you?
Never mind. I know who you are.
You are ... Salvation.
Without you, I sit in this house
The schools closed, Nintendo game blaring
Kids screaming: "He hit me!" "She hit me first!"
Then I hear you, up the block, like distant thunder
The Snowplow Man!
Come to set me free.
Mr. Snowplow Man, we know how hard you work
When the weather turns grim.
Salting, sanding, plowing 16-hour days.
Sure, there's beaucoup overtime -- time and a half, right? -- and yet the
Weariness is etched in your face.
Look at those bags under your eyes, like
Twin pieces of Samsonite luggage.
No matter. When the weatherman freaks us out -- Tasselmyer, Turk, Norm Lewis and the rest -- and
White, puffy flakes fall from the sky and
The Super Fresh fills with wild-eyed pilgrims demanding their
Holy rations of bread, milk and toilet paper.
Then, like John Wayne you saddle up and ride into town
To clean up the mess. Praise God!
But sometimes, Mr. Snowplow Man, you tick me off.
Burn me up. Get me steamed.
Put yourself, for a moment
In my soggy, cold L.L. Bean boots.
I shovel, shovel, shovel 'til -- final- ly! -- the vast expanse of
Driveway is finally clear and I stand hunched, sweaty and heavy-breathing,
My lower back screaming.
Then, here comes the Snowplow Man
Tire chains tinkling merrily, the big, orange blade rumbles past -- whoosh! -- and
A wall of wet, gray snow is pushed back into the driveway.
Man, at times like that, I could
Three vertebrae out of whack al- ready and now
Another half-hour of shoveling looms, all because of you.
"Damn him," I say, at times such as this.
"Damn, damn, the Snowplow Man."
Then there was the morning you
Clipped my mailbox.
Sent it flying through the air, end over end, like a
Wobbly Matt Stover field goal in slo-mo.
Sure, I could hie to
Home Depot, maybe, or BJ's or wherever and buy
Another mailbox. A better one, even, maybe one painted with pictures of canaries
Warbling sweetly or a desert sun- set tableau, which seems to be all the rage now.
But I am not made of money, Mr. Snowplow Man, no siree, bob.
That mailbox you whacked, it didn't say Rockefeller or Bill Gates, right?
So let's be careful out there, OK?
Yet most of the time, you are my hero.
Lord of the Road, the Asphalt Cowboy, modern-day Samari- tan with your Richard Petty sideburns and rugged, aviator shades and detached coolness.
We line the grimy street on snowy morns and wait for you
Like starving refugees waiting for the bread truck.
Then -- huzzah! -- the roar of an engine, a flash of orange, a cloud of blue-black exhaust and you rumble by.
One pass, maybe two, and now there is a way out of this frozen gulag where before there was none.
Man, I could kiss you! (Hey, no funny business, I'm talking on the forehead here.)
Instead, we raise our shovels to the sky, in a silent salute to
The Snowplow Man!
And sweet freedom.