The One Work

 The dance of snow and shovel –
this winter repeated too many times to count –
falls into a rhythm
lasting long enough
to still the mind and plunge
into movement of blood
and bone and their fleshy container
wrapped in layers of cloth and leather.
Breath in. Breath out.
Slide under, lift, throw.
And there it is – the frozen powder
flying through air
framed in vertical lines of bare trees
wrapped like a gift in pink and gold
morning light.
Now isn’t this the same cycle
as any inner landscape?
A fall of deep snow, unexpected,
frozen, still, more than I thought.
I’m buried by the weight of it.
I close my eyes, not wanting
the work of it. Which can’t last
for –
how else is motion possible
than to get out the old shovel
nicked and rickety from long use?
A lifetime of use.
My own inner compost
needs more turning as the years pass
and sometimes it’s buried in snow
so deep that I keep my eyes averted
until its demand rises to a height
impossible – no, dangerous – to ignore.
Then, not unlike this morning,
I give all I am to it,
to the shoveling and turning,
to the rhythm of slide, lift, throw,
to the breath of my small being,
as long as Earth holds me upright.
Breathe, slide, lift, throw –
inside, outside –
isn’t it all the one work?
And the clearing that appears –
no greater reward
inside or out.