Thank you for these tiny particles of ocean salt, pearl-necklace viruses, winged protozoans: for the infinite, intricate shapes of submicroscopic living things. For algae spores and fungus spores, bonded by vital mutual genetic cooperation, spreading their inseparable lives from equator to pole. My hand, my arm, make sweeping circles. Dust climbs the ladder of light. For this infernal, endless chore, for these eternal seeds of rain: Thank you. For dust.
Marilyn Nelson - 1946-
Pleasant Smith, 1837 Joseph, Alonzo, Neptune, Truss, and me lit out under a sky paling towards dawn yesterday, to trek on down into town and take our places in the national economy. Because times are tough all over, poverty and unemployment rife. Who can compete with immigrants who’ll work for a bite to eat? We’re free now: ain’t giving up our dignity. It ain’t like we’ve done day labor all our lives: Joseph was a waiter, Neptune chopped firewood, Truss had him a barber shop, when times were good. It’s a struggle, now, to feed our children and wives. But there’s always been work for men who will haul and lift, doing the labor once reserved for slaves. (It’s ironic, that those who sweat over harvest have —after the rich are served—so little left.) By midmorning the corner crowd had thinned, as men were picked. At noon, the only job still open was emptying latrine tubs. Am I a tub-man? I looked at my friends. We thought the same thought. Our eyes wouldn’t meet. Have I fell so low? We trekked back to town last night. Each took a barking alley by starlight. And we emptied the perfumed privies of the elite.