Work: Pull like water buffalo

black and white,photography

The people I love the 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 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.

~ Marge Piercy, To Be Of Use



  1. namelessneed says:

    please re-post on Labor day, “Let’s drink To The Hard Working People”/ Thanx so

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Technology has made the past earthen ware as obsolete mode to have water carried or we got refrigerator to quench our thirst..and to tell the truth I would make a mess and break the pitcher in my eagerness to fetch water for two..forefathers lived and initiated their technology..and we are blessed with all services neatly tucked into our house..with finger touch we do get I glad we don’t use pitcher..let it be thirsty..let us drink in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. And yet your comment reminds me of the darker side of technology:

      Outwardly the most obvious change is technological. Like surrounding armies, steel and glass structures can be seen at the edge of this old city of Paris. Efficiency with its faster cars and airplanes, television, computers and e-mail, defines modern life here . Yet strangely, in this brave new world with its promise of every possible sensation and comfort, one feels diminished. The unapproachable immensity of the skyscraper in front of me, blotting out the immensity of the sky, appears now as an icon of an anonymous power, in whose shadow I feel powerless.

      ~ Susan Griffin, “To Love the Marigold” from Paul Loeb’s: The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear (Basic Books. 2014)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dionysus Amber says:

    Thank-You for. writing this. You write so beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. and herein lies the real job, getting it done. without fail.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan Morrison says:

    Love this!! Happy thanksgiving XO, jan m


    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one of my favorite poems. I have a copy that was included in my CSA farm’s newsletter posted on our tea cup cupboard….Marge’s words brew in my household daily. Her lines speak to me more as I live with her poem. Thank you for sharing it here. xo S

    Liked by 1 person

  7. perfect for the beginning of the work week

    Liked by 1 person

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