At the end of the work day
you could tell exactly how far you had gotten
and how much farther there was to go.
Of course, it was just a ditch for a pipeline
to carry the reeking slop
that a neighborhood of toilets
would slosh together to be drained away
but it was clean, the trench,
the slick walls the backhoe bucket cut
and the precise grade of the bottom.
My job was to sight the transit.
I gave a thumbs up or thumbs down
or the OK sign if the pitch was right
so that some future day shit would flow
just as it should, down hill,
but you knew where you stood,
what you had done in a day,
and what more there was to do
and every meaningful thing I had said
I had said without a word.
Michael Chitwood (USA, 1958)