As some of us head into weekends that are finally warm enough for time outside, I’m sharing a poem I wrote after a day of moving shrubberies (like a holy quest). We are so much more than the way we spend our time to make money. We are so much more than brain or body. We have to remember how we are made to be whole.
The day after I have dug holes all around the yard,
Pulling up plants here and placing them back there,
My hands ache in the space of fat meat
Between my thumb and forefinger.
This is a microcosm of my other muscles;
They too are taught underneath my shirt,
Simultaneously used and ready to move.
But I can’t give them more today,
Can’t feed them more of the manual labor my
White collar existence so desperately needs.
Yesterday was weekend, today is workday.
Yesterday was muscles, today is mind.
The gluteus maximi that strained under the
Weight of uprooted azaleas yesterday rest its
Girth today around a sit bone over-supported
By the cushion of an office chair.
I do not know what it is to have
A collar other than the white that perpetually hangs around
My neck, the invisible reminder of degrees and
Certificates hanging on my walls.
Were my collar blue, or my neck the hard
Caked, red-brown color of my grandfather’s, skin
Turned to hide by day after day of toil in the sun,
Perhaps then I would covet the soft chair
Where my muscles rest unused today.
I do not know.
But above my white collar, up high in my head,
My brain muscle is ready for a rest.
It grows tired of trying to find answers to
Problems that don’t really matter.
Deep down inside its matters of gray it knows there are
Many ways of knowing, the access it has to the world
Is limited and muscles have a memory of their own.
The reality of this human condition is that no collar
Fits all the time.
We are not bodies or brains, but human beings,
Whole, inseparable, divine.
This we must reclaim.
This we must relive.
Let our minds be one with our bodies,
Fixing problems that are real.
Then sabbath will come
When we are totally spent.