Ditch Digger

Ditch Digger

I used to be a panhandle ditch digger
for the Contiental Gas Company.
At about 6AM I was dropped in an endless
field with no fences,
placed onto a trenching machine
that moved about 6 inches a minute,
and asked to drive miles over the
open country of Oklahoma
until dusk.

There was a lot of time to think
sitting out there.

The land is so flat
that if you stand on a soup can
you can see the shadows of massive clouds,
sliding slowly over the plains
like fresh, wet stains seeping into fabric.

I don't remember much concerning what I
thought about out there.

I only remember WHAT I DID.

I learned to juggle
dried cowshit.

I sang to the cows.

And occasionally,
I almost died
by trenching through unmarked, existing gas lines
or driving the trencher into rain-filled ravines.

It was fascinating being out there.
I cut my teeth and tasted
a life I could never commit to.
I moved through it like a strange explorer,
hired to study and
survey the local flavors.

But I don't remember anything
about what I thought about
while I was out there despite the fact that
sitting on that ditcher
by yourself
and thinking
made up about 90 percent of that job.

And I suppose that's an important lesson.

You don't remember thoughts.

You only remember your actions.

And you best be filling your life with as many
actions that you can fit on your plate.

Or you might as well dig your own ditch
and think long and hard about it

until you get dizzy.

and just fall right in.