EduPoem: To Be of Use
Nancy Hoffman, Jobs for the Future was probably the first person to share this Marge Piercy poem with me. I thought of it at Philanthropy Roundtable yesterday where I saw so many edu=entrepreneurs making a difference for kids.
To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into the work head first
without dallying in the shadows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
The 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, who 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 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,
Hop vases that held corn, are part 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.
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