“How can labor be magical?” you might ask. Sure it is Labor Day, so I could not resist the topic, but indeed, I find labor quite magical. Consider a big project that requires lots of labor. To me there is nothing as satisfying as laboring and seeing the fruits of my efforts. My husband and I are in the middle of painting our interiors. As we labor over each room—and it is hard work—I am continually surprised by the magical transformations that we are creating. We labor to bring forth changes. And we celebrate Labor Day to honor the social and economical changes that laborers bring to our world. Thank you to all the hard workers everywhere.
By Rhina P. Espaillat
I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl—
Life’s little duties do—precisely
As the very least
Were infinite—to me—
—Emily Dickinson, #443
My mother’s mother, widowed very young
of her first love, and of that love’s first fruit,
moved through her father’s farm, her country tongue
and country heart anaesthetized and mute
with labor. So her kind was taught to do—
“Find work,” she would reply to every grief—
and her one dictum, whether false or true,
tolled heavy with her passionate belief.
Widowed again, with children, in her prime,
she spoke so little it was hard to bear
so much composure, such a truce with time
spent in the lifelong practice of despair.
But I recall her floors, scrubbed white as bone,
her dishes, and how painfully they shone.