Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Belonging Field

I missed a poetry reading I would have liked to go to at the local college, because it was the same evening as one of our final rehearsals for the symphony's performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah (with the college choir). Although it's only the middle of the quarter at the college I commute to, it's the last week of the semester at the local college, so I'm spinning in a whirlwind between the two.

During a lull between the gusts of wind, I went to the local college bookstore and bought a volume of poetry by the poet I didn't get to hear, Andrew Grace (another of the many people who have passed through the local college). The volume is entitled A Belonging Field. One of the poems, in particular, struck me. Partly it's because of this post over at Life In Scribbletown and this post of mine, written the same day. Partly it's because my four cats have begun to go outdoors and wreak havoc on the mouse, shrew, and chipmunk population. And partly it's just spring, when a commuter's attention is seized by the number and variety of fresh corpses spread around on and beside the road. Season of new life, yes, but so many incautious new lives.

Buzzard Song
Anderson's Steel, Rantoul, Illinois, 1952

Tonight the moon is a punched-out hole
in a paper sky as I solder rebar

in this sweatbox, vesuvian neon
sputtering over a vast, concrete floor.

In the sky, a single buzzard undoes entire clarities,
bits of dark granulating behind its orbit,

splinter lodged in the heaven's bleached & dripping eye,
unloading earth's material measured in flesh & bone.

I want to say thank you, Death's Grunt,
for eating those that eat their young, hooking open

the seam between blood & rebirth. Someone has to do it.
Time is a whirligig hooked in my mouth,

my match-red face like yours. The next time you take
unimaginative pleasure in tearing something apart,

do it for those of us with six hours left on a shift,
darkness' paraphernalia dangling like opossums

from the branches. Disposability's Hound, unbless
this fallen deer until nothing earthly could put it right again.

I love the phrase "Death's Grunt." It reminds me of the guy in the movie Miss Firecracker whose job was to pick up roadkill. What a job! Even my part-time no-prestige jobs seem better in comparison.

One time a group of my friends began telling each other what jobs they felt least suited for. One, who was in a bad wreck as a teenager because of falling asleep behind the wheel, said truck driver. Another, an idealist, said prison guard. Being from a long line of fairly flat-chested women, I said topless dancer. Think about it--what job are you least suited for? And is the field you're in worth so many hours of each of your springs?


Alison said...

Musicology as a field seems to basically suit me (as long as you're willing to put it under the umbrella heading of "cultural studies). Student-hood suits me less and less as time goes on.

Another musicologist once told me that "grad students don't have gardens." This is especially true on the quarter system, where you're not even out of classes until the warm season crops are starting to come up. This year I'm sort of managing both, but not very well, and I definitely find myself annoyed that I must spend so much time not mucking about with plants.

Claudia said...

I discovered almost too late (I have a master's in education) that I was ill suited to be a teacher. So, I'm a researcher, which suits me well.

I would hate to work for a cigarette company. No matter how high the pay, I couldn't work for a death corporation nor could I work in an atmosphere where people are encouraged to smoke.

I'd rather be a janitor than work for Philip Morris.

Cschu said...

I am recently reminded of WHY I am so uniquely unsuited to being a truck driver. Having started wearing contacts in the last year, I REALLY notice that I don't blink nearly enough when I am driving. This makes driving long distances difficult (though I have gotten much better at it over the years).

Unfocused Me said...

My continuing attitude problem (16 months and counting!) would prompt me to answer that I'm least suited to my current career, but that would just be snark. Really, I'm least suited to any job that would require fine motor skills -- everything from carpentry to visual arts to taxidermy to surgery -- because that kind of work makes my head want to explode. I don't have the patience for it, never have, and I'm always amazed by people who do. For this reason, I would be the world's worst, and shortest-lived, anarchist bomber.

PAJ said...

My husband says I couldn't be a salesperson because I could make sales only to people I like (his implication is that I don't like many people).
After helping at my daughter's school, I know that the job least suited for me is kindergarten teacher. Whenever I was in the classroom, I alternated between two urges: screaming "BE QUIET!" and cleaning the room, which contained too much clutter, too many broken crayons and bits of paper on the floor, and too many loud children. Did I mention that there was too much noise?

Jeanne said...

It seems that thinking briefly about what a person is LEAST suited for might--at least for part of a spring day--improve his attitude towards his chosen field!

Dreamybee said...

LOL-I'm with you on the topless dancer thing! Also, after watching way too much TV, I have decided I could never be a cop. There is no way I could deal with all the things you have to deal with when you are constantly interacting with people who are drunk, on drugs, violent, breaking probation, stealing, and lying about all of it.

lemming said...

Every time that I think I might be unsuited for my job, the Lord drops large boulders on me. I take the hint. I'm fortunate not only to be in the right job, one which I love and which suits me, but in a unique sub-set of that job to which I am unusually well suited.

I'd make a lousy slumlord.

Jeanne said...

Dreambee: your name kind of says it all about not being suited to be a cop; I think they have to be alert. Otherwise where does the phrase "cop eyes" come from?

Lemming: you're so fashionable. No one wants to be a slumlord nowadays.