Labor —by Jinny Batterson
Not to belabor the point,
But for many of us, labor has gotten
Pretty thoroughly detached from bodily work.
The fruits of our labors these days
May often involve spreadsheets rather
Than hand-washed sheets spread in the sun
To dry, or fruitful virtual deals rather
Than fruit freshly picked from actual trees.
Fuels laid down in prior geological
Time substitute for much manual labor these days.
Gas, oil, coal, electricity can help make our lives
Comfortable, if not especially productive or fulfilling.
We yearn for connection, but rarely find it.
We may experience nature at a distance,
Or not at all. Sweat, strain, exertion, groans
Happen at the fitness center, washed away
When we shower and change into “street clothes.”
Physical labor, when done well, has its own inherent dignity.
Might this day, established in the nineteenth century
To honor laborers, remind us in the twenty-first
To take a break from the gym? Instead,
To go outside, to find a patch of earth, however small,
To heft a trowel, hoe, or shovel, then to burrow
Into a bit of the foundational soil that has for
Eons fed both our bodies and our souls.