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Thinking About Laborers

What space does Labor Day occupy with you?

My family has always been heavy with blue collar workers. Have I always been grateful for who they are and what they did? No.

When I thought “Labor Day,” a late summer holiday is what first came to mind. I remembered notebooks, pencils, and school buses. It was just that time of year.

But it’s far more than that.

On Labor Day, I still think hot dogs and chips. What comes later is remembering I am honoring the workers of America. Workers who labor in shops, in fields beyond tin roofs, in factories, office buildings, restaurants, and all the other places.

Working men. Working women.

Since Adam, mankind has suffered and labored.

I look out the window and see the walnut tree sheltering the red bud.

At some point, I became aware of my father shouldering a load for the family, being a shelter for our family. I was still young. Probably did not appreciate what he did, not yet…

But now, I want to stand beside those laboring and suffering, those caring for others.

He Shoulders the Load

Toward evening.

It is with much thought that the gray-haired man

reaches to hang a heavy coat. His shoulders,

now thin, are worn down, worn out. She watches

as he rubs his left shoulder and pictures him

as a blue heron on a cold pond.

He puts in long hours, letting

a heavy absence speak for him. But always,

his shadow drags him back to the door.

Like his father, his father’s father,

his grandfather’s father,

he shoulders the load.

And now, he struggles to pull up

the collar of a gray sweater to cut the chill

on the back of his neck

and shoulders.

—by Pat Durmon

from Push Mountain Road

Wherever you are today, say a little "thank you" to those who must work on your day off.

Pat Durmon


Photographed in Norfork area by Pat Durmon, September 2, 2018.

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