“The Day’s Chores: A List” is in twelve numbered sections. In section 1 (one stanza of eight lines), the speaker sleepily encounters a cup of tea, noting the cup’s color and contemplating its ingredients. She opens one eye at a time, perhaps reluctant to come fully awake. Section 2 identifies the first actual chore and issues the first command: Water the plants. The plants are seen as a substitute for a pet; they will at least respond (“purr with pleasure”) to being tended. Section 3, the briefest section with only two lines, issues the second command: Observe the sun. This will be remembered in the final stanza, where it will have become a metaphor for living fully awake.
Section 4 expresses the importance of having work to do. Although work is seen as a stand-in for something more dramatic or romantic (“The back of my dreams has been broken”), the speaker announces that since she now understands the importance of her work, it is like a lover to her. Section 5 includes more advice about being awake and attentive, in this case just sitting and listening to the chair creaking and to the person who sat in it before her. This is clearly a spiritual cue to be open to all manner of awareness: Someone who was much older, spoke another language, and was not even present can still offer spiritual company. Section 6 speaks of listening to people now present or to other writers, as long as these writers are truthful about their inner selves....
(The entire section is 588 words.)