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Daisy is Doing Just Fine T

he edges of the postcard are dog-eared and the handwriting

slanted backward. He must have used a black felt tip because the ink has bled into the cardboard and the sun has faded it to the shade of an old navy tattoo. The addresses have been cancelled out so many times that I have to admire the combined tenacity of Canada Post and the trail of roommates I’ve left behind. I meet Nick the summer I get the worst

job of my life: laying sod on a golf course for twelve hour stretches in the middle of the night for minimum wage. The economy in the Maritimes is so bad and minimum wage so low that employers underbid each other in a perverse numbers game, trying to see how much they can get away with for how little. Twenty of us show up in the gathering dusk of a Nova Scotian night with its particular mix of heat and fog. The air billows around us and the onshore wind feels as warm and dangerous as if issued fresh from a hoary blast past the tonsils of a sea monster. We the formerly unemployed, now join the ranks of the dignified employed. All shapes and sizes, we are, each carrying within us vast oceans of silence, we face each and sneak speculative glances at one another (where does he live? what happens to her face if she smiles) keeping one ear cocked to receive the only training that the job

requires. “The forklift drops palates,” says the

foreman, hitching up his belt. “And you guys—and gal, beg your pardon.” He tips his nose toward the one figure whose breasts protrude slightly inside the barrier of her doeskin plaid shirt. “Go get the sods, and put ‘em here next to one another. One like so, and the next like so. Any questions?” There not being any questions, we all launch into the task at hand with the energy of those who have never paced themselves at backbreaking labour over a twelve hour shift. The field is lit by backhoes, whose

headlights slice through the darkness and meet at a theoretical point in the air. Nick looks the most at home and if the foreman had said, “All right boys we’re digging a tunnel to China,” he would have just picked up a shovel and dug in. His shadow on the ground is forty feet tall and his leather jacket squares his shoulders like a titan. “You know what you’re supposed to

do?” asks the foreman, leading us over to the forklift. “Grid pattern,” someone parrots and the

foreman nods. Over to the forklift get your arms around a fat damp roll of grass, roots and earth dig your fingers in and lift. Parcels of ocean spray are lifted from the backs of the breakers and carried inland, to smack your ears like little warm fists. Slog

By Natalie Meisner

across the muddy field and find the ragged end of the grass carpet. Fit your sod into the grid, halfway down the length of the one before it. Roll it out and tamp it down. Turn and walk back toward the light hundreds of times and try not to picture what the golf course will look like next year; the glinting steel of the clubs flashing right angles in the sunshine; the crisp haircuts and pleats; the mathematical flight and clean bounce of next year’s dimpled golf ball. After a couple weeks you don’t even

notice the steady stream of insects that flee the sod you’re handling and flow up your arms like a current of electricity. You stumble through the shower and into bed only to fall into dreams in which you are also laying sod. Except in the dreams, the light from the machines emanates from under the earth, which makes it seem like you’re covering over heaven with sod. Shutting out all the celestial light, except what can leak up through the cracks between the grid of earth and grass. Our numbers dwindle as people either

find work or decide the joke is no longer funny. When I try to help the girl, Lanie, lift, she pushes my hands aside, laughing. She flashes a flask at me from an inside pocket then jerks her head toward the edge of the pool of light that surrounds the site. “Little something to get you past the hump?” I follow her and when my eyes

24 • Bread ‘ n Molasses July/August 2010

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