Nancy: How many times have these woodlands been cut? These fields broken? Strangers become friends over plain shared garden talk? How many hopes and how many dreams hover in the air?
Back To The Land
I’m going to plant potatoes,
as good a way as any to make a framework
around the holy madness I seek.
Potatoes will help me communicate with my neighbors;
we can shake our heads, together,
over the plague of porcupines. I can
talk about cutting the gnawed spruce.
I can know that the whine of my saw
carries – “Clearing the old field,” they’ll say,
and they’ll come by with hints about stumps
and the virtues of turnips.
Good people. They’ll see that I earn my crop,
sweating it out of the spruce and sod,
and judge that.
Potatoes will free me.
My back and my hands and my mouth
will be apprenticed to reality;
I’ll talk about rain and manure.
I know that what I search for in silence and fear
may be unspeakable. I may go too far, lose my way,
or I may come back empty handed. That’s why
I’m going to plant potatoes, as a hedge against failure
as a poet or a saint.
My neighbors are good people,
they’ll measure my field, and judge that.
Alan: For 30 years, he was a steady presence on my trips into town, an adult child slowly turning gray. I never knew his last name. One day I realized I hadn’t seen him for awhile. Now the house is for sale.
Bobby sits by himself at the roadside,
coat pulled up and hat pulled down,
watching the cars driving by,
watching me heading to town.
Bobby sits in a chair marked “Bobby.”
That’s how I can tell it is he.
If I wave, his smile hardly wavers.
I don’t think he’s smiling at me.
The kids never play with Bobby.
The grownups don’t stop for a chat.
He just sits and rocks by the roadside
in his overcoat and hat.
“Back To The Land” first appeared in Slow Dancer magazine.