a mundane task

all these
things to do in
order to simply exist.

like taking
the ladder from the garage
and carrying
it into the house
and opening it
without smashing my fingers
so I can change
the air filter.

what a masterful design
this old house has.
the air filter is mounted on
a 14 foot ceiling.
I climb up
the ladder with my wife
at the bottom worried I will fall.
I tell her not to worry
everything is fine
and then she hands me
the new filter.
I fiddle with the grate.
it has a broken
hinge and opens sideways
almost hitting me in the head.
I reach up and take out the old filter
and hand it to my wife.
she makes a face
and says it is clogged with dust
and god knows what.
it is disgusting.

I put the new filter in
and close the grate.
there is a trick to it.
I feel a little bit woozy
like I might fall
backwards but I don’t tell this
to my poor wife.
she has enough to worry about
without me falling off
and smacking my head
against the bookcase down there
and maybe dying
or spending the rest of my days
paralyzed and
wearing adult diapers
or worse.

then I inch
back down the ladder
one step at a time
like the doddering old man
I will soon become
and then I’m safely on the floor.

my wife
seems pleased. I have not died.
I will be around
for another year or two.
I fold up the ladder
without smashing my fingers
and take it outside to the garage.

as I go
through the door
it begins to rain.
not just a
mild and gentle spring drizzle
but a cold, angry torrent.
I am soaked through
in a matter of seconds.
I let the ladder fall
on the lawn and I walk over
to the tree
beside the garage
and stand under it.
I see my wife looking at me
through the
kitchen window.
she is safe
and dry inside the house.
I know she is worried again
this time about
I lean against the tree
and think this is what life’s all about.
a relentless
accumulation of small tasks and duties.
weather is always there like a curse
to compound discomfort.

a life of this
and then
one day suddenly
you fall over dead and
they shovel you in the ground.

I tell myself it is worth it.
yes, of course, it is all worth it

and then
I think about getting
the ladder
off the lawn
and out
of the rain.