As an old farmer of the written word, I know that in my deepest cultivation I’m really just scratching the surface, and that the strange crops I bring forth, the cactus and the flower, are food of brief duration, and that when I’m gone, the land I care for and hold dear will be safe harbor for my feeble literary bones.
Once, many years ago, while we were engaged in an ordinary vineyard task, my father said he thought farming was a noble profession. I understood him then. I understand him now.
On my knees, planting flowers on the rough clay slope
next to the driveway at my mother’s house, trowel in hand,
dirt under my fingernails, sweat dripping from my brow,
I suddenly sense my dead father behind me and say
out loud, “That’s right, I know you’re there.”
Still farming, that old man of mine. Can’t resist the call
of planting time, the scented earth, the feel of tender leaves.
Songs and Letters, May 28, 2009