Poetry Thursday: Of service

fishmonger holding high two lobsters Virgo is the sign of service visualized as a maiden in a flowing robe, hair up or down, bearing grain.

Not a lion, not a bull not a ram. Not a hottie hoisting a vat of water to his massive shoulder with his studly arms.

Not a sharpshooter, a skilled, sought-after professional, never mind the hairy knees and hooves, not a pair of enigmatic twins or Escher-y fishes not even a goat or a crab or an inanimate fucking object of weights and measures:

Oh, no. A lone shiksa who has never met the high, hard one fondling a shaft of wheat, that's my lot.

I hated being a Virgo like I hated being not old enough or tall enough or smart or pretty or funny or fast enough to be anything but altogether unexceptional.

I hated my sign that started with "V" and ended with nobody getting laid like I hated the black watch plaid I wore every day for eight years that made me look just like everyone else, only somehow, never as cool as the girls with the good signs, the Leos, the Taurans, the goddamn Capricorns, all of whom most assuredly were relieved of their virginity before they were 19 and had to beg someone.

Do you know who serves?

Broom-pushers and burger-flippers; stockboys and bus drivers. Practicing alcoholics spinning condo-closeout arrows on the corner or hawking Caesar salad specials in a chicken suit. Cashiers, counting out other people's money, and actors, when they can't get work as actors, and overeducated foreign nationals and undereducated dropouts all clinging to their last shred of dignity doing jobs too low even to be beneath them.

People with no other choice choose service, don't they?

Yes. They do. They do. And the luckiest of them, I see now, embrace it.

They stoop to wash the dusty feet of strangers, to set the broken arms of girls who slide off the monkey bars, to pour themselves onto the page again and again so that this time, that someone whose heart has barely a hairline crack running across it can finally start feeling the light pour in.

They bend and contort themselves to make pastafazool and music. They bear with patience the slow, slow uptake of mathematics in adolescent crania and self-knowledge in the shattered heart. They give and give and give of their time and their talent, and their sweat and their soul sometimes for little, but never, never for nothing.

Finally, decades later, but not too late, I see that what is truly true: that to love is to serve. And so now, as then, I choose to serve because I cannot choose otherwise.

I must live in service of that which I've been given: my broom, my brain, my pen, my heart. I must push them to and fro to and fro to and fro every day of every week that they are in my custody.

I must live to serve, because now I finally see what is truly true: that I must serve to truly live.

xxx c

Image by Charbel Akhras via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.