August 27, 2008

At Hard Labor

I suppose I am grateful
that writing a poem

is not like mining sulfur
from the banks of a volcano

or welding a crossbeam
miles above the street.

Nor is it like
erecting a dreamhouse.

Most days, it is more
like splicing a phone line,

or hanging a door
on a linen closet.

Afterall, we live
in a world of toiling,

sweeping the dust
from the steps,

only to find them
wanting once more.

Wiping the gray mud
from our boots, then

walking out into the
field again at morning.

I have never
invited these poems, yet

they keep on arriving
one by one, shaking

the rain
from their shoulders

as they emerge from
the dark beyond my door.

I suppose I am grateful
that they did not

rob my house
or steal my children

from their
very beds.

Writing a poem
is not like

rising at first light
to cook for an army,

but more like
waking at ten on Sunday

to prepare an omelet
for someone you really love,

or teaching a small child
to lace up a shoe.

It is the dancers I pity,
who must aspire

to leap and spin, and
the painters who must

live with the burn of
turpentine in their veins.

What of the man
near the park, who stands

on the best days and the worst
turning chestnuts over tiny coals.

Or the waitress
who must always

be concerned with
what I want to drink.

Writing a poem is not
like any of that, I think.

But enough, the rain
is ferocious tonight,

So much that I fear
the hills will be washed away,

And if I am not mistaken,
there may be someone

my door.

—Daniel Thomas Moran (2002)

Posted by dwaber at August 27, 2008 02:45 PM