Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To be of Use

The year I graduated from high school, Marge Piercy wrote this poem that I shared with the academy staff this afternoon at our faculty meeting. In researching her this evening I found out that she lives on Cape Cod and is often in and around Boston. Cool!

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.


Anonymous said...

gbest line right now is
"..move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out."
It wasn't as bad as all that but with the recent earthquakes a certain amount of pulling together has been a necessity.

sunny said...

"anonymous" is me..sunny.

Inland Empire Girl said...

When I discovered this poem a few months ago I also had to post it. I love the themes in this poem

trudymorgancole said...

I love Marge Piercey ... great poem. Do you know her poem "What it Costs"?