I've been reading some poetry lately. I guess that sounds sort of uppity, or fancy or self-indulgent - and perhaps it is - but, mostly it has been in an effort to improve my skills at putting words in a row and making some sense with them. Poets are good at that, for the most part, me, well... not always.
It is Labor Day around these parts. It's funny, I have a few readers now in other parts of the world and find that I am more aware of my Americentricism (not a word) than I have ever been in my past. I'd love to give them, and me, a succinct and definitive explanation of the holiday, but, I can't. Here is a link to what the Department of Labor has to say about it, the gist of it being: "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
I know, sounds lofty and important and, all in all, a great idea. Sort of like poetry.
So, how do poetry and Labor Day come together? Where, perhaps more accurately? Well, in my mind, in this poem by Robert Hayden:
And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
But, if a son of mine were to thank me, it might look something like this note Nick made a couple of years back that hangs on my mirror in the bedroom:
From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."
"We don't need any more ideas today. Ideas turn into bad things."
Yes, son, they do, sometimes. But when they don't, they can soar...