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Richard Meissenheimer (1947-2006).

 They lowered him into Valley earth One August afternoon. After
thirty-two years Amid these streams, the rocky soil, the houses under
the peaks, His hands and wit
 Will remain forever. A careful mechanic, He knew how to assess fuel
systems, when to coax A reluctant alternator, when to hammer loose A
brake drum, when to rebuild, to weld,
To abandon. He never ceased to learn more As the specs continually
changed. I wish I'd been a doctor
, He said. Then I only would have to be familiar
     With two models
. He studied people closely as their cars, A connoisseur of absurdities
in either case But never entirely dismissing hope
Concerning his neighbors. He sparked the unionization Of a muffler shop
where he worked in town Though they laid him off for the deed. He helped
organize Volunteer fire departments
Along the Valley highway, served nine years as local chief Then was
pushed out by a district official Who was a friend of neither justice
nor safety.
The hands that kept us moving, the willingness to serve That protected
our homes, the droll words That kept us laughing and focused Continue to
float over the acreage by the river beach: The dawn mist
That flows above the water late August to May Transforming, as the day
ages, Into a cloud that ascends the Valley walls To snag in the treetops
                 while below,
Vehicles he will never repair Steer along the back road Through all the
seasons He won't encounter now, like the faces unknown to him
Who will gather at potlucks To dissect the latest area land use plan And
assemble at the fire hall Tuesday nights To run the pumper up and down
the lanes
--His enduring presence A benediction Hovering in the Valley air. 
COPYRIGHT 2009 The Antigonish Review
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Article Details
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Author:Wayman, Tom
Publication:Antigonish Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jun 22, 2009
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