What I love about a backhoe is
the way it braces itself against itself,
with two flat feet to fight its appetite, the shovel
undermining just
the terra firma which its hinder parts
rely on. So the man in me
is making inroads everywhere—whole cities rise
where he has wrecked the gardens—while the woman,
without whom he can’t make headway anyway,
must stay her ground with equal force.
The latitudes of play
are ampler for the rules; and clouds look clearer
in a lake than not; the poets lived this long
so they could practice birth control.
Excited by a simile, they take
the indecorum of a stagnant ditch
and make a mirror of it. Meanwhile it’s
the backhoe man who cares to read.
At lunch he hunches over
his Inquirer; which is full
of spiritual facts of life, like

MALE GIRL GETS SELF PREGNANT, and he loves it.

—Heather McHugh