Ora et Labora

Only by grace do we still labor.
We eat in the park from paper plates

& lick the yellow icing from too-
sweet bakery cupcakes; & peel the meat

from the bone with sticky, clumsy
fingers. Only by effort do we hammer

planks pried loose by the heat
back into the ribs that have tightened

on the deck. Only by breathing do we keep
track of time: what's past & what looms

like the shadow of an animal, its howl
an echo we hear hunting in the small

hours of night. We should have been torn
to pieces long ago in the maw of this

machine; or turned on a spit & lanced
in the side. But we lie in the sun,

made sleepy by the effort to finish some
task. We pick flowers to lay on the tombs

of our dead. We write or read to keep back tears
or questions. We listen for what doesn't come.


In response to Via Negativa: Blues.

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