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Garden needs a lot of work, but that's why I have one.

There was a panel at Wiscon called Big Talk Conversation. It involved forming small groups by topics, and having conversations on those topics: Sex, Personal, Death, Politics, Potpourri. There were many questions on slips of paper as prompts, or you could start a conversation with your own question. The last question in my group was "Has a work of art ever made you cry?" and I read this poem, because I had it on my phone because I had just sent it to [personal profile] ljgeoff, and because it always makes me cry.
To be of use


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.

Lisa helped me run Kids' Programs at Wiscon. She jumps into work headfirst, without dallying in the shallows.

I had to move a toad while I was turning one of the compost bins. Toads are also why I have a garden.
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I read "Upgrade", by Rohinton Daruwala, for the December Strange Horizons poetry podcast. You can read it here or listen to me read it here.


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