Bruce Guernsey of Bethel has appeared twice before in the Take Heart column. Today he offers a group portrait of a family at the dump.

The Dump Pickers

By Bruce Guernsey

On Sundays

carting my trash to the dump

I’d see them swarming

the piles like gnats,

a whole family of pickers

straight from Mass:

Dad’s suit, white

as the noon sky, Junior

in a polka-dot tie –

in bright, patent leathers

his small, pale sister.

From the highest of piles

Mother shouted orders

through a paper cup,

the men hurrying under

her red, high heels,

dragging metal to the pickup,

the little girl giggling,

spinning on her toes

through the blowing paper

like a dancer, a little twist

of wind in the dust.