Ode to Sao

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You bought farm equipment for the earth And went into debt, cleaned for decades To pay it off. Now you collect cardboard

With scarred hands cut, in the deep heat Of Japanese summer. In a rich land, Old and thinking of others, you work

And pull your cart, load and unload, Cut, flatten and fold, lug and tilt And smile, Stoic, more philosophical

Than philosophers. You say, amid your pain, That we will understand if we have children That a parent cannot take money from them,

That we want our children to have something Better, and that, to spare them, I say I will Work till I die, as a hobby. She is thinking

Of dignity even as the cardboard prices Fall, eight dollars for three days work, Lugging and hauling beside luxury cars

And we who complain should know some shame And feed the poor, young and old, and give them Books and oranges, not drive them with debt

And smother them with insecurity In wind, sun, rain, sleet and bury Our stone hearts in a sheet.