SUNDAY AT THE DUMP

…now called “Transfer Station”—
you join the parade of citizens
in cars, pickups and minivans,
dutifully carting this week’s detritus.
Cerberus–in a baseball cap–
checks credentials at the gate,
punches your ticket, waves you in.
An orderly realm—each station marked,
where not to park, where to take each
species of trash–everything
clearly labeled as in a kindergarten.

Charon, a narrow fellow of uncertain age,
supervises from his seat, enthroned
under a beach umbrella.
Here Newspaper, there Cardboard.
Here Junk Mail & Magazines,
there Rigid Plastic, Milk Jugs (Only).
Each to each. Backdrop to all this activity,
a round hill–the former landfill—
repository of past generations’ debris–
now transformed into a landscape
of tall grass and Blackeyed Susans.

Opening the car’s trunk, you lug out
this week’s burden. Oh, the joyous heave
of the black garbage bag
into the brimming container!
Oh, the satisfying smash of glass
into the glittering depths of the bin!
And the virtuous feeling as you bear
Saturday night’s beer bottles
to the 5-cent-return station.

Afterwards, as if lightened of all sin,
you breeze down the exit road, passing
one final exhortation: NO GYPSUM BOARD.
Then a little verdant hollow that cradles
a lost pond. And, back under a clump
of oaks, a squadron of empty dumpsters
patient as oxen, waiting their turn.