To be of use
by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without the 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 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.
Happy Birthday, Mom. And thanks for showing us all how to "be of use."
p.s. and because its a favorite of your's, i'll add:
by Edgar A. Guest
The Path to Home
There’s the mother at the doorway
and the children at the gate.
And the little parlor windows
with curtains white and straight.
There are shagging asters blooming
in the bed that lines the fence,
And the simplest of the blossoms
seems of mighty consequence.
Oh, there isn’t any mansion
underneath God’s starry dome
That can rest a weary pilgrim
like the little place called home.
Men have sought for gold and silver;
men have dreamed at night of fame;
In the heat of youth, they’ve struggled
for achievements honored name;
But the selfish crowns are tinsel,
and their shining jewels, paste,
And the wine of pomp and glory
Soon grows bitter to the taste
For there’s never any laughter
howsoever far you roam
Like the laughter of the loved ones
in the happiness of home.
There is nothing so important
as the mother’s lullabies,
Filled with peace and sweet contentment,
when the moon begins to rise –
Nothing real except the beauty
and the calm upon her face
And the shouting of the children
as they scamper round the place.
For the greatest of man’s duties
is to keep his loved ones glad
And to have his children glory
in the father they have had.
So where’er a man may wander
and whatever be his care;
You’ll find his soul still stretching
to the home he left somewhere.
You’ll find his dreams all tangled
Up with hollyhocks in bloom
And the feet of little children
that go racing through a room
With the happy mother smiling
as she watches them at play
These are all in life that matter,
when you’ve stripped the sham away.