The Roofer
Jane Zwart

The Roofer

From strangers, too, the rudiments
of joy. A man sweeping a midden of shingles
from a roof’s flat hat-brim
raises a hand, blackened, rimed with mica.

He and I wave to each other
across the cars in the street; we wave
not at the wrist or from the elbow
but from the shoulder,

saved from decorum by delight
at the angle our regard must travel.
Anyone might think us linked by more.
But in a second the thread, thin

as whimsy, snaps—unstable mutuality
submitting to radioactive decay.

                                                     I tie
my half of what is left around a finger,
betrothed by a stranger to being.

Jane Zwart

teaches English at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have previously appeared in Poetry, Rattle, and TriQuarterly, as well as in other journals and magazines.