A Repeat Blog Post: To Be of Use

I first posted this at the end of April in 2008. I reread many of my National Poetry Month posts as I get ready to once again celebrate this month with poetry. Enjoy a repeat.

Poetry is a passion in my life. I have loved reading and rereading poetry and posting a poem each day this month. I may have to continue posting favorite poems as I find them. Thanks for all your encouraging comments about the month's collection. Recently two people shared this poem with me. It became a new one to add to my collection. I love the woven theme of tasks and how many ways they can be approached. It was fitting to choose my mother's picture above for this final poem. Whether she is at my house helping to prepare Thanksgiving dinner as illustrated above, planting a garden, or washing down the walls in her kitchen- she always jumps in head first.

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

-Marge Piercy

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