A Time Before

Three elderly African American auto-workers
"A Time Before" courtesy of Gloria Niles

Dust-covered boots, labored navy pants,
Men standing united with purpose
amidst broken armored pieces.
A commonality of pausing
before the lens to capture a moment.
A workman’s playground where talents and
physical exertion resolve impairments.
Focus on disconnected body parts
waiting to be melded, metal-to-metal.
Together, brothers, friends, and comrades.
GM factory workers now businessmen.
Sometimes gathered in a football
huddle, ruminating, seeking the best
play or direction for completion of a
Chevy Impala. Calls to action, moves
to be predicted, Team-mates, without
negative input.

An unlikely lover of country
music, Dad whistles to songs that tell
stories of heartbreak and struggle,
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
Harley motorcycle road trips with
three brothers.
Sharing wisdom, Dad says,
“Be careful what you say and do.
Hurt can be forgiven
and apologies accepted, but
harmful words are never recovered
once released into the universe.”
Expose a time
before life grows heavy
before Alzheimer’s erases memory,
before weak hearts stop ticking,
before cancerous blood cells leave bodies
without any redemption.
Smiles of men to be vanquished
and left speechless with only
survivors to recall better days.