Smallest of labors

Of what use are the things others call
useless right from the start? When I

was a child, my mothers poured a paper
sackful of legumes onto a winnowing

basket. While they worked peeling tubers
and severing small animals at the joint,

this was a way to keep me occupied—
Tedious exercise in finding each dark

scar tucked into the side of a bean;
from there, tearing and pulling away

at the spandex-like sheath. You could say this
might be practice for all the things I didn’t

know yet: about choosing one problem
at a time from the heap to soak overnight

in water. About shielding what I can
before it’s time to give up the heart.


In response to Via Negativa: O tempora, o mores.

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