Poem: Work to be Done

Pawlet Station SMALL

Work to Be Done

You wake to frost,
The cat curled in the crook of your legs,
the sunlight glazed on your window,
your demons chuckling, sure that somehow,
this time, their ropes will bind you.

But they do not. Your feet hit the floor with purpose,
sending the cat scurrying downstairs,
the daily routine begun,
the first battle won.

You walk down the stairs slower,
the fog slowly clearing from your head.
You remember life before it all,
when you sprang from bed with energy and joy.
There is not much of that life you miss.
The quiet place you live today suits you better.
It is more honest. More in tune with your soul
than you ever imagined life being.
But still, to wake with energy, without
tiny demons nipping at your heels,
would be nice.

You are efficient.
That is what she says, the woman you love.
You wake. You dress. You start the coffee.
The fog lifting, you talk and her voice soothes you.
There is news. There is laughter and declarations
of love that still leaves you agog with amazement.

There is work to be done and you leave.
The first frost coats the grass and the leaves of fall.
The cat follows you out the door and complains of the cold
before darting off.

You drive. The car cold, barely warming
before you arrive at the small diner you have made your office.
The smell of coffee assaults you as you enter
and you begin to believe in life after death
as you sit, and sip and begin.

Dire Straights is playing on the stereo: “Wild West End.”
The cook is singing and you join him,
an impromptu duet, a new connecting point
between two men of a certain age that have refused
to die, to lose their passions.

The diner begins to fill, and the singing stops,
each of us submerged in tasks and promises to keep.
But still, the music lingers, playing in the background,
as your fingers ply the keyboard,
rejoicing in the simple rituals, the disciplines of the day
that make you strong enough.

You read. The Bible. Psalm 46:10. Matthew 22:37-40.
Mantras again. All you need to know of this vast book
that has shaped you. An open heart. A gentle spirit,
even in the midst of hate and demons.

You write. Your soul on journal pages.
It is like exercise, pushing you to probe ever deeper
into the places you feel rather than see.
Three pages. Like religion. Like litany.

You are weak. You are strong.
You have more blessings than a broken man deserves.
Love. Children. A warm house. Opportunities.
Coffee and cats.

What of it that there are struggles, largely with yourself.
Everything has a cost.
Everything is a trade-off
and if the life you have now costs the brokenness that once was,
it is a price well paid, a bargain.

You lift your coffee cup and toast the moment.
The cook, mistaking your actions, toasts you back.
You both smile, each in our own heaven,
ready for the day.

There is work to be done.

About this poem

This morning the scene with me and the cook/owner of my favorite diner actually did spontaneously break into a chorus of “Wild West End.”.  Stranger things have happened.

Be well, Be grateful.


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