Phillip Levine

Philip Levine was named Poet Laureate a couple of weeks ago.  My favorite of his poetry collections is "What Work Is".  He knows.  He really knows and is brave enough to set it down. To set down the woman sweating it out eight long hours a day on the finishing line at a plumbing fixture factory.  To give her her due, her dignity.

What does this bring to me?  The power of language well wrought.  The grace that what a dearest friend calls the "thoughtful concern of poetry" brings to all it touches.  And third, a reminder that the things I use on a daily basis come into my life by the efforts of the human hand.  Someone's hand.  A certain someone's hand. An individual's hand.  A hand attached to a body that carries a name. Quite possibly a soul.

In the history of the faucet I used this morning to bring the water that filled my teapot stands a woman. Mr Levine brings her into my consciousnesses.  Through him I, too, give her her due. In this I am expanded by his efforts.  For a moment or two, maybe more, I am made better.  That, too, is 'what work is'.  The magic of poetry.  A different kind of work altogether but work all the same.  And as necessary to what I call my soul as water to my body.

How does he bring me to this woman?  With these lines he tells me how: " you must come closer ".  Which is exactly what he did and by doing so brought me to this faucet making woman.  I won't forget her.  Or him.

I have been brought into the circle by Mr Levine.  The great circle of life.  Oh,  I was there and knew it.  And am whether I know it or not.  But it's more than nice to have a powerful and loving hand reach out and make sure.  And that is what he has done.  He's made sure none of us forget who each the other is through the work we share by either its making or use.  And maybe, just maybe, he's made sure we don't forget what we may mean to one another as well.