Mama told me Daryl is here to stay,
His roommate killed a man and his wife ran away.
He’s a good man but he’s had a hard life,
He has no home and now he has no wife.
Your Dad and I have talked and we feel,
Daryl should move into the trailer on the hill.
As for money we’ll ask for none,
After all there’s plenty of work to be done.
Pounding nails in the hot sun,
The framing of my mother’s deck had begun.
Daryl worked hard and we fed him well,
Laboring in the yard until the dinner bell.
After dinner my parents and Daryl wanted to smoke,
But no one had a lighter and only one match in the book.
Mama said someone would have to be “Third on the Match,”
I didn’t know what that meant so I decided to ask.
Mama explained it’s an old superstition,
About when a match is struck in a sniper’s vision.
As the first cigarette is lit the sniper raises his gun,
On the second he steadies his hand so the third man is done.
Daryl told my parents, “There ain’t no snipers near,
Light your smokes and pass that match over here.”
Mama lit her cigarette and then she lit Dad’s,
When she lit Daryl’s I held my breath expecting something bad.
The cigarette tip glowed bright red as Daryl inhaled,
The smoke swirled in the air as he exhaled.
Nothing bad happened like what Mama said,
Daryl stood and excused himself off to bed.
We were awoken in the middle of the night,
Daryl’s finger tip had a deadly spider bite.
Growing from the bite was a long black line.
My Dad drove him to the hospital in record time.
Mama and I waited up most of the night,
Dosing off just before the morning light.
We were jolted awake by the telephone ringer,
Daryl called to tell mama it wasn’t a bite on his finger.
Doctors told him it was blood poisoning and they think it’s best,
If he stays at the hospital so they can run some more tests.
Daryl told Mama not to worry,
He’d be home to finish her deck in a hurry.
But Mama’s only concern was for Daryl’s health,
Don’t worry about us focus on yourself.
You’ll always have us so don’t feel alone,
She told him to get well soon and hung up the phone.
I couldn’t help thinking of the previous night,
Daryl’s poisoned index finger illuminated in the match light.
Between it and his middle finger rested a cigarette,
The end of Daryl’s life began the moment it was lit.
Doctors ran their tests and sent Daryl home,
His finger was getting better but they found cancer in his bones.
Daryl promised Mama that he would recover and finish her deck,
Until then he was going to his parent’s and need to pack.
After Daryl left the months passed until the season changed,
The trailer had new tenants and they were soon engaged.
The wedding date’s set but there’s a hitch,
We couldn’t host a wedding until the deck’s fixed.
The wedding date drew closer but still,
Daryl couldn’t fulfill his promise because he was too ill.
The deck remained skeletal and bare,
My parents had no man power or money to spare.
Unexpectedly three days before the wedding date,
Men with Lumber and nails walked through the gate.
Progress was fast with so many men laboring at once,
They worked hard and would soon need some lunch.
Mama and I went to the kitchen and began our own work,
She prepared lunch while I cleaned plates and forks.
Just as we had everything set the phone rang,
When Mama hung up the phone her face looked drained.
She said it was Daryl’s mother calling to tell us he died last night,
As this sunk in I could hear the men hammering out of sight.
Before Daryl went to heaven he whispered in sleeping ears,
And now I realize why all those men are working here.