Friday, September 2, 2011

What Work Is

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is--if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, "No,
we're not hiring today," for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.

"...No one knows where poetry comes from…"

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I know. Comes right from the bottom of the heart...

    "You have to write every day
    because you never know where a poem sleeps
    It might be coiled around a branch
    high in the air
    dozing in the speckled shade
    It might be dreaming in a story you loved
    when you were a mouse
    in a wall much larger than now
    You may find a poem in a cloud
    a boy watches, thinking
    of the one time he went fishing with a bear
    But you have to let it happen
    you have to listen real hard
    The poem can survive a night
    in the woods alone, curled up
    under an elm tree
    after a day of looking for you
    It can even be happy as a stone in the river
    if it knows you are waiting for it to come home
    And you are waiting
    as darkness descends
    and the birds become invisible
    on the branches
    their nests
    like the thoughts of drowsy mathematicians."

    By Maurice Kilwein Guevara