We Are Bereft

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Silence and darkness grow apace, broken only by the crack of a hunter’s gun in the woods.  Songbirds abandon us so gradually that, until the day when we hear no birdsong at all but the scolding of the jay, we haven’t realized that we are bereft — as after a death. Even the sun has gone off somewhere.  By teatime the parlor is as black as the inside of a cupboard.

Reading after supper on the couch, I let my mind wander to the compost pile, bulging with leaves and stalks.  I’ve turned it a few times since October, but the pile’s hard surface no longer yields to the fork.  Even the earthworms have retreated from the cold and closed the door behind them.  There’s an oven warm at the pile’s center, but you have to take that on faith.  Now we all come in, having put the garden to bed, and we wait for winter to pull a chilly sheet over its head.
~Jane Kenyon from “Good-by and Keep Cold”

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Decomposition

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I’ve banked nothing, or everything.
Every day the chores need doing again.
Early in the morning, I clean the horse barn with a manure fork. 
Every morning, it feels as though it could be the day before
or a year ago
or a year before that. With every pass, I give the fork one final upward flick
to keep the manure from falling out,
and every day I remember where I learned to do that and from whom.
Time all but stops. 

But then I dump the cart on the compost pile.
I bring out the tractor and turn the pile, once every three or four days.
The bucket bites and lifts, and steam comes billowing out of the heap.
It’s my assurance that time is really moving forward,
decomposing us all in the process.
~Verlyn Klinkenborg from More Scenes from the Rural Life