Alison Luterman

(New England)

Invisible Work


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 fro 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.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Read poems about / on: work, sorry, poem, mother, lonely, world, moon, sea, sky, time, heart, night, dog, running, wind

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  • Anne P Murray (ladeeanne) (9/1/2008 1:54:00 AM)

    This poem is such an amazing piece! So compelling, I kept reading it over and over and every time I read it, I felt priviledged and inspired to more meanings. You write so well, such a unique individual style.It read so fluid, yet inconsistent all at the same time (Report) Reply

  • T Anders (8/15/2006)

    Alison, Thank you for this exquisite poem! As a mother, a poet, and caregiver, I identified with it so much, and have been craving a reminder of the value of my kinds of work. You write beautifully, with that sense of not one word being too much or out of place. The effect SEEMS effortless, like music well-played! (Report) Reply

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