Work Horse

I own you because I have to.
I am not self-sufficient.

When I tried to be poor
I was thrown gold;

When I kept the gold
I was called a wastrel;

When I gave it back
I was shunned for my ingratitude.

And you tried to please me
but I will never be pleased.

We are simpatico;
We both know futility.

We made the land work
But neglected the niceties.

Those who have done the reverse
dislike us.

We dislike ourselves
for the work seems like grief.

And what is work anyway
but a turgid mirror

whose revelations quiver
in recalculation:

We are something today;
we are nothing today.

We are something today;
we are nothing tomorrow.

:: Kathryn Maris, in Cimarron Review

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