This woman hauls water
ten miles every day.
This one bends her back to grinding corn
the way her grandmothers did.
Here’s one making change in a tollbooth.
Her fingers dirtied with bills,
but she keeps her fingernails nice.
Where does she go when she has to pee?
He makes hamburgers at McDonald’s,
evenings and alternate weekends.
He lives on broken burgers and fries,
wilted lettuce with special sauce.
Who empties the public trashcans
of waspy soda bottles, pizza boxes,
candy wrappers, hamburger wrappers,
and little plastic bags of shit?
She cleans toilets in a highrise hotel,
changes the sheets that someone stained,
mucks the hairs from the drains.
A guy in the laundry bleaches the towels.
This man stocks Walmart shelves
with cheap socks and sheets
and dog poop bags made in China
by people who don’t know why.
He teaches children to read.
She knows all about
The Faerie Queen. Somebody
digs up ancient hearths and coins.
Why do people make bullets?
Somebody has to fix cars.
Lots of us know how to sing.
Are there any lamplighters left?
People in expensive clothes
sit at shiny desks and make decisions.
They sell plastic bags and corn.
They sell salt and water and guns.
People plow the country roads
and spread gravel and the salt
so people can get to work,
so people can get their mail.
People sort the mail:
catalogues that no one reads,
magazines about the problem, pleas
from charities that never seem to help.
Some people try to grow food.
Some people blow mountain tops away.
Some people make money telling other people
they can cure their cancers with prayer.
Some people pray all day.
Some people learn to die.
Some people run countries
and some people change them.
This one writes poetry.
Here’s one who feeds birds.
This man plays the bassoon.
This woman learns the names of stars.