Homage to the Grim Raker

The man across the street is raking his leaves but instead of using a rake he’s running some kind of hyper-industrial, mulching machine–a thing that sounds like a snow plough dragging against pavement, certainly there’s something wrong with the damned thing.  Accordingly he’s making a statement about his neighborhood and his place within it: he doesn’t care about the fact that he’s disturbing the people around him.  He is moving his leaves with sinister efficiency and he’s giving nature an obscene gesture at the same time.  I think he feels good out there forcing his outsized and outdated internal combustion engine over the dark lawn.  His wife comes out and shouts at him over the din and though you can’t hear what she’s saying, she sounds wildly happy about the torment they are together inflicting on Ridgeway Drive.

I wonder what it means when people are so utterly regulated to noise that they will endure it for the sake of something like ten minutes of convenience.  The mechanical leaf blowing gizmo will probably save the man all of ten minutes over an old fashioned manual raking.  In geologic time ten minutes is nothing.  In domestic time it is barely enough to make a can of instant soup.  So he can’t really be saving time.  There’s no way to justify the idea.  So what’s he up to?

He hates the sound of a rake.  That "long scythe, whispering in the wind"–the scratching of death, the scraping of "the grim raker"–this is most certainly what all that noise making is about.  "Death, where is thy sting if I can’t hear your crumby little scythe?"

Either that or the guy’s just an inconsiderate boor who likes Campbell’s Cream of Asparagus.

He ruined my raking this morning.  I like the ancient, dry, confirmatory scritch pitted against the oceans of leaves.

My friend, the Finnish poet, Jarkko Laine, once described dead leaves as being "death’s butterflies".  I like that idea.

I guess I’ll have to rake by night, while Mr. Asparagus is dreaming of oil filters and pop top cans.

S.K.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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