Farm Rhythms and Seasons

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photo by Lea Gibson

When I pull open the barn doors,
every morning
and each evening,
as my grandfathers did
one hundred years ago,
seven rumbling voices
rise in greeting.
We exchange scents,
nuzzle each others’ ears.

I do my chores faithfully
as my grandfathers once did–
draw fresh water
into buckets,
wheel away
the pungent mess underfoot,
release an armful of summer
from the bale,
reach under heavy manes
to stroke silken necks.

I don’t depend
on our horses’ strength
and willingness to
don harness
to carry me to town
or move the logs
or till the soil
as my grandfathers did.

Instead,
these soft eyed souls,
born on this farm
two long decades ago,
are simply grateful
for my constancy
morning and night
to serve their needs
until the day comes
they need no more.

And I depend on them
to depend on me
to be there
to open the doors;
their low whispering welcome
gives voice
to the blessings of
living on a farm
ripe with rhythms and seasons,
as if today and tomorrow are
just like one hundred years ago.

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photo by Emily Dieleman

Some Rain Must Fall

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The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
~Longfellow “The Rainy Day”

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Rather Be a Hammer

frost125143I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes, I would, if I could, I surely would…
~Simon and Garfunkel from “El Condor Pasa”

If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land,
I’d hammer out danger,
I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between,
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.
~Lee Hays, Pete Seeger

Strangely enough~
it is the nail,
not the hammer,
that binds together
creating the strength
the safety
the permanence of
foundation and roof.

The hammer is only a tool
to pound the nail in
where it is most needed
where it won’t be forgotten
where the hole it leaves behind
is a forever reminder
of what I, as hammer, have done
and how I am forgiven.

 

Begin to Awaken

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By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast — a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines —

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches —

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind —

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined —
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance — Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken
~William Carlos Williams “Spring and All”

It is still January
with much of the country
in deep freeze,
covered in snow and ice
and bitter wind chill.
Yet outside begins to awaken–
tender buds swelling,
bulbs breaking through soil,
in reentry to the world
from the dark and cold.
Like a mother who holds
the mystery of her quickening belly,
so hopeful and marveling,
she knows soon and very soon
there will be spring.

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Take the Next Step

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At sundown when a day’s words
have gathered at the feet of the trees
lining up in silence
to enter the long corridors
of the roots into which they
pass one by one thinking
they remember the place
as they feel themselves climbing
away from their only sound
while they are being forgotten
by their bright circumstances
they rise through all the rings
listening again
afterward as they
listened once and they come
to where the leaves used to live
during their lives but have gone now
and they too take the next step
beyond the reach of meaning
~ W. S. Merwin “To a Leaf Falling in Winter”

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A Deeper Well

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The whole process is a lie, 
                  unless, 
                          crowned by excess, 
      it break forcefully, 
                  one way or another, 
                              from its confinement-- 
      or find a deeper well...
                 I love you 
                              or I do not live 
      at all.
 At our age the imagination 
                  across the sorry facts 
                              lifts us 
      to make roses 
                  stand before thorns. 
                              Sure 
      love is cruel 
                  and selfish 
                              and totally obtuse-- 
      At least, blinded by the light, 
                  young love is. 
                              But we are older, 
      I to love 
                  and you to be loved, 
                              we have, 
      no matter how, 
                  by our wills survived 
                              to keep 
      the jeweled prize 
                  always 
                              at our fingertips. 
      We will it so 
                  and so it is 
                              past all accident. 

~William Carlos Williams, excerpts from “The Ivy Crown”
written at age 72, published in Journey to Love

How can we, at our age,
who have treated love as no accident,
looking into a well
of such depth and richness,
how can we tell the young
to will their love to survive –
to strive through thorns and briars,
though tears wept and flesh torn,
to come to cherish the prize
of rose and ivy crown.

It is everything that matters,
this crown of love
we have willed and worn together:

I love you or I do not live at all.
I to love and you to be loved.