Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don’t mean these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, “It’s hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces for dinner,
and there’s no one
to say what a good job you’re doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache.”
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.
There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world’s heart.
There is no other art.
The university that I work for is currently in conflict with the union that I belong to, the UCU, over Universities UK’s (UUK) proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
This has resulted in lecturers like me taking strike action.
You can read more about the reasons some of us have for taking this action here and here.
For the next few days of strike action I am going to be posting poems on my blog whose subject matter is the world of work.
On this fourth day of strike action we read Invisible Work, by Alison Luterman.
You can follow the #USSStrike hashtag on Twitter here and the #UCUStrike hashtag here.
If you can take the time to retweet or share this poem via social media I would be so grateful.
The views posted in this blog are mine alone and do not represent those of my employer.
Oh, I love this.
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Thank you for saying so! Good wishes, Anthony
What a lovely poem. I’m enjoying this series, though sad about the need for strike action.
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Thank you for your support! As ever, Anthony