Packing Bags (a prose poem)
I sit packing bags for the food pantry - each one gets two cans of sausages, a packet of dried soup, a can of chunky soup or chili or ravioli, a wrapped cookie. Tomorrow I will add fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, bread and peanut butter. The work becomes rhythmical: sausage, packet, soup, cookie. Over and over again. I find my mind wandering back 60 years to old Vermont women who sat on their porches stringing beans. Their job might seem easier, but it wasn't. To get those beans they had to spade up the ground, plant, weed, water, gather the harvest. After the beans were strung, came canning day - the house filled with steam. The care they took that each seal was safe and tight. The cooled jars were taken down to the cellar and placed on shelves, so their families would have a green vegetable in the dead of winter. The stores didn't sell vegetables year round back them.
I wonder what they thought while they performed the endless, rhythmical task of stringing beans, what did they remember?
I only know this: those old women, old women now, we work that people may eat.