Standing on the sidewalk
in the weak September sun
talking with a flooring contractor

His name is painted on the truck
while the younger guys sucking cigarettes
carry tools into my house

As we discuss oil and water based poly
several preschoolers turn the corner
one teacher in front and one in back
and as they pass us
the teachers over-enunciate
“Buenos Dias!”

prompting a collective murmur response
of “buenos dias” in our direction.

We wave and smile at the children
the way adults wave and smile
at unfamiliar children.

My flooring guy keeps smiling
at the backs of the toddlers
after they've walked on.

From nowhere he says
“I should've had kids.”

“My wife...we married when I was
in my 40's.

I wasn't always a contractor.
I've done a lot of things.

Met my wife
and she waited til I was in love
to say she wouldn't have kids.
But what do I do,
half through life,
finally in love.

Love,” he trails off
looking toward the
brightly colored backpacks.

"I fucked up."
and as though clarifying

“-I'm late to coat a floor at another site.

I'll be back to put on a coat
after the guys sand
all three grits.” he explains,

climbing into the van
painted with his name-

a ferry
shuttling equally
between islands of
the wrong job and
the wrong love.