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  • Harry Jensen

March 13, 2021


Today I raked for four hours, put four hours’ worth of raked leaves in six bags, and put those six bags of four hours’ worth of raked leaves in the garage. That is all I did.

During work yesterday afternoon, I, accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee, delivered a microwave to a client named Sandy Black in downtown St. Paul. She was exiting the lobby of her highrise when I pulled in to park across the road, and I watched her amble a beat up, childsized grocery cart out the front doors of the complex. We stared at one another as I waited with shaking legs for the street between us to empty itself of cars, holding the microwave like a boxy white baby.

Eventually the road cleared, and I crossed the street to heave the brand spanking new microwave into Sandy’s carriage. She thanked me profusely, and I, an hourly altruist, pretended to be baffled by the very act.

“Oh, Sandy, how could I not?”

Still on the company dollar and basically a hero to end all heroes, I decided to take a victory lap around the nearby Minnesota State Capitol to bask in the glory of the midday sun, and also bask for but a brief moment in a portapotty or modest bush. The coffee was still steaming inside of me, and I realized I would not be able to use our state’s legislative headquarters for a wee. Around the Capitol was a chain link fence, likely placed since or before the uprising, which gave off the illusion of construction though nothing seemed to be happening.

As I searched for a public chemical toilet, my bladder began to rebel against me. I hurried onwards, and distracted myself with the belted speech of a man who was stumbling down the street opposite me, a middle-aged man in a baseball cap and a yellow shirt who, too, seemed to be experiencing some injustice.

“Ground maintenance should be picking the leaves off the fucking trees before they hit the ground. I’ll be transplanting them quietly, though I’ll tell you about it,” the man bellowed, shaking his fist at the gleaming alabaster capitol building, dotted by bare naked oaks and maples.

After five more minutes of trot-skip-limping in search of urinal avail, I found a turquoise PolyJohn near a light-rail stop populated by black-masked teenagers and threw myself inside. On the interior, it looked and smelled as if a colostomy bag had detonated all over the walls, walls which carried such politically charged messages as “Trump for Jail 2021,” and “SMOKE METH HAIL SATAN,” underscored by a fat penis ejaculating a snowball.

I had a lot to think about as I made my way back to my car, stopping to read the inscriptions below both a statue of Nazi-enthusiast Charles Lindbergh and a monument dedicated to NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins. I stared again at the fence blocking the front steps to the Capitol’s main entrance, where a man was carefully wrapping a white sheet, and thought about all that had happened here in my home state this last year and century, all that I had missed, and all that I would miss when I moved to Chicago. I did not want to miss my friends here, swallow my fear and say goodbye to them, to my father and his house and his roofen legacied dedication to his sons, to me; and I did not want to dwell on the self-serving regret of my not being here during the protests, and I did not want to miss the evolution of our sociopolitical existence as the fences came down, the statues were removed, and the flags were retired. I did not and do not want to miss a thing, and to make choices pains me deeply, as each small movement of life is in turn an infinite death of paths forsaken. I want so much. But more than a feeling of home, being loved, being a citizen, being my father’s, more than anything, in that single moment and with all my heart, I did not want to rake leaves the next morning.


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