laboring for a gift

The Shakers believed that they received their arts as gifts from the spiritual world. Persons who strove to become receptive of songs, dances, paintings, and so forth were said to be “laboring for a gift,” and the works that they created circulated as gifts within the community. Shaker artists were known as “instruments”; we know only a few of their names, for in general it was forbidden that they be known to any but the church elders.

laboring for a gift

these poems, where
do they come from?
they pour through
from the unseen—
startle and surprise
the poet perhaps
more than the reader
that’s the delight
the astonishment
the jolt, the awe

when the poet
shows up every dawn
ready to listen
prepared to receive
the flow increases—
every day? people ask
every day
rhythm, constancy
are required—
that’s the laboring
the gift is
being in service

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.