Tuesday, March 23, 2010

To be of Use

A long time ago a dear friend of mine sent me this poem on the back of a homemade journal. I filled that journal and many others with secrets, stories, poems and adventures. It remains one of my most prized possessions; grateful for the space to share the stories and for the home made gift my friend gave to me.

As I continue to contemplate this one, wild, amazing life and what I am supposed to do with it, I find a 'home' in this poem. I wonder if you do too.

To be of use
by Marge Piercy

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.

"To be of use" by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982.


Beth said...

Awesome, Megan. Thanks for posting!

LauraC said...

I love it!!

Jessica said...

That is a wonderful poem. Since I'm in the middle of a bit of a midlife crisis, it makes me wonder what sort of work I want and need to be doing. Those aren't always the same, right now, as I need to be doing all the mundane work that goes along with caring for home and child, but I want to be doing far more (and less...if that makes sense.) Thanks for sharing.