Love. Joy. Creating. Passion in my work.
A Puritan woman stood before me. Her black head covering winged out at her chin, its white pointed daggers aimed at the elements.
“The work is not worthy unless it is hard,” she said. “It doesn’t just come. You earn it. Even then, you won’t get there.”
I was afraid. Her stoicism was dignified and looming. She stood as a Grand Fir tree. Her vertebrae were fused in one upward rod. Boney fingers hung from frozen branches still bearing last month’s snowfall.
The ache of hard labor was in her bones. Life was about surviving. Joy was a ticket to hell. Tight collar. Children dying. Shovel in earth. Hauling in buckets of water. Endless toil. I felt the devil’s empty space he leaves behind after he has stolen something. Passion is sin. Let the devil take it. Work is godly. Let my fingers work until they bleed for God. You are not worthy unless it is hard. And even then, you are not worthy.
She spoke no more and disappeared.
A few days later, while I was driving, she appeared again.
I see you, I said. Would you like to dance with me?
She was still.
I turned up my car radio and began my dance.
Won’t you dance with me?
Her black skirt swayed right, then left.
Then we were stomping,
a hot freeway
the city of