All thanks to John and Thomas Ryan, my brothers, Ted and Nick Scheu,
and wonderful friends and artists too numerous to count.
To Be Of Use
The people I love 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 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, 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 as 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, ©1982