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Behind Every Blue-Collar Day

Here is the weary weary,
toothache end of the day,
where the boulders you have moved
lie in the riverbed of your room,
unimpressed with your exhaustion,
unimpressed with your dignity. Here’s what you tell me:
the wind is swift, the hotel bed is like the cross,
there are no potatoes, no green vegetables,
much less warm skin, much less soft breath,
only the bleak prose of the bills and the asymphonic notes
of the trucks idling all night outside the nailed window.

There is no anonymous workerwoman, everyman.
Behind every blue-collar day
are the thousand love poems he’d like to write, a fire dance
they secretly long to do, a hundred sculptures
she would put in a garden, maybe the Rose Garden,
maybe anonymously, maybe statues of illegal Mexican gardeners,
the ones who are paid less, maybe statues of Russian gardeners,
the ones who have no health care, spraying the elegant roses with FDA-approved toxins,
maybe sculptures of young house cleaners, exhausted, asleep with their canisters of comet
under the Queen Elizabeth variety.

If I could, I would grant the garbage collectors their trip to the moon;
the straight line painters a month of curves
the construction workers that long day in the sun
to build the best sand castles, and then wreck them, and then build them again,
and then move in if they want, and not on their anemic day off.

How lucky, someone told me, that company is moving the Widget factory
back to Oregon, back from Malaysia.
Work for the fortunate poor in that once crucified town.
Now the Malaysians can starve some more, a skill they have honed —
and the Oregonians have the great luck to stand in the click click
of the factory, and make their lives into tiny plastic meaning.
Anne Weiss – October 13, 2009