The Workman

Strange thing that
How few and good the tools they use each day –
A trowel and a trough,
A hammer and a saw,
A pencil and a board,
That stubby metal square with broken tip.

Missed that, mate –
How many are the tools we use each day –
Compressor and a drill,
Wood chisels spinning lathe,
A Grind and buffing wheel,
So shining all the tools that fill our shelves.

What code then
For me, when first I found some tools to use?
A stick beneath the couch,
A bottle for the milk,
A spoon to eat my food,
Those people close to me who met my needs.

Presenting code:
Effeciency with which to get things done,
More time for me to play,
A faster feed of food,
A toy regained at last,
How I could have my way without my mom.

There, that’s it –
How I could cope when others not around:
With parents reading books,
Big sisters off to play,
No friends till I was three,
First Nations folks so strangely kept away.

He – few tools,
Yet he four houses built – as many years:
A high degree of skill,
Held mostly in his head,
Tool-belt with leather made,
Experience of years with others worked.

He’d said that –
The boss I had when first I camera took:
Two years to learn a craft,
The second film you make,
The tempo of the trade,
The little tricks and shortcuts learned each day.

Code? not that –
I do my life with tools quite differently:
Much easier to work,
I’ll find a better way,
Efficient is the game,
Hey mom! Why don’t you look at me and praise?

Tools I’ve used
In all the things I’ve done successfully:
A pulpit and the word,
A paper and a pen,
A camera and some film,
My tools for doing them were few as well.

What code ‘work’?
That differentiates the builder with his trade –
I saw it first at home,
Like other children do,
My dad and mom as well,
The adults, white at lest, all working hard.

There, that’s it –
The influence of ‘Natives’ in my life:
With time to stop and play,
No worry ’bout the clock,
The laughter and the songs,
A world where I was first, because a child.

I saw not –
Hard work they did away from home each year:
Log houses built and chinked,
The game tracked down and killed,
The beaver traps set out,
A thousand things for centuries they’d done.

Quiet they
Not pushing ’gainst the force of weather bad:
They worked with river’s flow,
An axe and fire and gun,
Close family all around,
They did not need the tools, for not alone.

Echoland –
That turf between two cultures whence I come:
It resonates of both,
But neither way is mine,
The place I’ve always stood,
Though only now three years I’ve been aware.

What blend then?
This Echolandish culture of my work:
The twisted worst of each?
Rich source if both are used?
Uniquely blended now?
To harness up imperatives in me?

Was that it?
As I tooled up to go potential roads:
Then found they’d not pan out,
Residual built up,
A few good tools I use,
My problem – dissipation, dead-end routes.

What now then,
Code for call – the focus-making core of life?
A hand in Jesus’ hand,
A Spirit-guided way,
Response to given tasks,
A letting go to give Him room to work.

Nice blend that –
A mix of active, passive – middle voice:
An interactive life,
With Jesus in the world,
Diagonally sloped,
‘Take hold’ and ‘letting go’ – the ‘Native’ way.

That’s my world –
It beats the loneliness of culture white –
Yet press of people gone
That plague of ‘Native’ world
My life from it freed up
Like Metis life – the best of both are mine.

What of tools?
See how for hobbies lots of fancy tools?
Yet not so much at work,
A product focus there,
‘Havdalla’ to my play –
“As I move forward, stewardship fulfill.”

Longing heart –
That sadness deep in me from whence I’ve come:
The disillusioned dream,
Of ‘Native’ way to learn,
Of Church renewed at last,
Of me allowed back into body life –

Oh, My God!
The Cree, like whites, not home for which I long:
Pushed out by them as well,
“Your thoughts are straight from hell”,
Like dad’s, rejected too,
Havdalla to a ‘home’ that never was.

Free at last –
Though painful once again to see for real:
The Cree are not my home,
In solitude to roam,
Encumbrance falls away,
As I detach I find my stance more sure.

Now I see!
Like Church, the Cree, at peril cast us out –
(The givers with their gifts
Financiers with their cash)
Compassion’s allergy,
But without us they shrivel up and die.

For us too –
We giver-types, who finance things, need you –
(Compassion-person types
Confront our errant ways)
So mutual the need,
Devine the humor, problem, and the cure.