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Poet Wendy Drexler picks a single marking on a tunnel wall to celebrate the value a single aspect of someone’s labor.

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By Wendy Drexler

Praise the beam of that light that slices
through late afternoon traffic.

and the faint scatter of that light
on the roadbed graded to a gradual bend.

Praise the gradual bend.

And praise the worker who climbed
up the catwalk at 4 a.m. to tape

the stencil, R48, high on the tunnel wall.
spray-painting R48 in rusty red,

and then mounted the back plate,
connecting the cable to the power source,
completing what is

every day taken for granted, among all
the hours, perishable, yet to come.

“Light R48 on the Storrow Drive Underpass” is from Wendy Drexler’s new poetry collection, Before There Was Before, which was published in March 2017 by Iris Press, The poem first appeared in Cider Press Review. She is the author of Western Motel (Turning Point, 2012) and the chapbook Drive-Ins, Gas Stations, the Bright Motels (Pudding House, 2007). Her first children’s book, Buzz, Ruby, and Their City Chicks, coauthored with Joan Fleiss Kaplan, was published by Ziggy Owl Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared widely in such journals as Barrow Street, Ibbetson Street, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, The Mid-American Review, The Hudson Review, The Worcester Review, and the Valparaiso Poetry Review; featured on Verse Daily and WBUR’s Cognoscenti; and in the anthologies Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and Burning Bright: Passager Celebrates 21 Years. Her website is