Life’s Labor

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.

The sweet flowers indrying and dying down,

The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown.”

From Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Sunset in the City” 


“Therefore—we do life’s labor—

Though life’s Reward—be done—

With scrupulous exactness—

To hold our Senses—on—”

Emily Dickinson 


Dawn comes with a song colored in a blush of dusty pink

whispering secrets

I am light

glowing honey gold

through rose-tinged clouds.

I am sound,

the buzzing drone

of a cicada,

the eager chirping of a sparrow

looking for love.



soon come the shadows

black in the moonlight–

soon comes the silence,

save the skittering of night creatures

over dry brown leaves.


It is a week of reflection

abjection and affection


glowering grey

and love that stays


true in hue

though the world’s askew.


Hurricanes and guns,

the loss daughters and sons


to senseless violence

and no defenses


do we have for either wind

or fury underpinned


by those in power—

but here in a bower


a garden of flowers

we sit for hours.

My mother naps

as the sparrow flaps


his wings to no avail–

though he chirps and flails


the lady sparrow ignores him

as he follows from limb to limb


and along the concrete wall

calling, calling to all


“I am here,

my beauty, appear!”


On this Labor Day weekend

we labor and bend


to the inevitable end

of summer and life, we send


thoughts outward with the breeze

we tease


joy for moments when we can

flowers, family, pets, wine—and

I remember how my mother worked

and didn’t shirk


her duty to home or even nation

bucking rivets, no vacation


I’m sure, she tells me of a woman there

who stands up for her—the righteous everywhere—


when the haters hate

six million dead does not set them straight.


Still, she worked all her life

in stores, as mother and wife


and after. An aunt worked sewing

and I wonder, not knowing


what the factory was like,

and if they ever went on strike,


but my mother got to borrow her clothes

and so, it goes


she met my father who lives in her dreams–

he lives on in seams


stitched with invisible thread

in memories real and false, but we tread


lightly because what else can we do–

as we sit under a sky of September blue


knowing that autumn is coming,

but the moon will keep humming,


and we will labor, love, and play

life beyond us will go on, each day


green or barren, this earth

laboring, revolving, giving birth


to new possibilities, hopes, and fears

in endless cycles over thousands of years.




Today is Labor Day here in the U.S.  The Mormon Temple near where my mom lives has a lovely little garden square that is open to the public.  We enjoyed wine and cheese at Tria, where on Sunday’s they offer specials that they call “Sunday School.”  My mom recently told me that a woman defended her when a man or men uttered anti-Semitic slurs at her–while she was working as a “bucker” for riveters during WWII.



















34 thoughts on “Life’s Labor

  1. You make me look forward to Monday with your beautiful musings, Merril. I loved all of the quotes and your photos were wonderful! I especially love the one with your mother, she looks so happy to be with her daughter. ❤️

  2. So love this: “he lives on in seams / stitched with invisible thread” You know, I always try to pick one or two favorite lines from your poems. It’s really hard to do when I love all the lines 😉
    My mom occasionally blurts out a memory, something I might not have heard before, and I always want her to elaborate but she can’t. She had never been one for talking about “the past” as she calls it. She’s always been a “here and now” kind of person. The last time she talked at any length about the past was the last time she was with a younger sister who was in hospice. My sister sat and listened to them, told me later she wished she’d had a tape recorder. I imagine they were talking about the life they had shared growing up on the farm. My aunt was ten years younger, and they didn’t share a lot in their adult lives.
    I’m hoping your mom is doing well. At least when she shares those bits of history, you record them. Your poetry does the rest.

    • Thank you so much for your very kind comment, Marie! At this point, my mom only offers snippets, and she doesn’t remember so much or she is confused a lot. Even though she and my dad were divorced, he was the love of her life, and I think she was of his, too. She’s been talking about him a lot lately.

    • Thank you so much, Luanne. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by reflections–I think it’s related to my fascination by time. I had a sudden urge to have my husband take a photo of me and my mom–not sure how many more we’ll have like that.

      • I’m so glad that you asked him to do so!
        I too love reflections. We have a pool that has natural coloring (not that bright blue), and the reflection of the trees and flowers in the pool amaze me every single day. My favorites are old buildings reflected in new buildings.

  3. Pingback: Laboring – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.