Monday, October 10, 2011


Here I go, taking another prompt from Cafe Writing, this time option 2. I don't claim that this is particularly good stuff I'm writing, but it helped me get something out on paper. No-Prize to the first person who can identify the formal constraint I placed upon myself in this work of free verse. I could probably re-write without it and get a better poem, but if I hadn't done it in the first place I probably wouldn't have stumbled on most of the lines that I like, so there's some value there, I think.

The prompt was to write a poem about gathering together or scattering abroad, using for inspiration the following quotation by Edwin Way Teale:

"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."

For a moment, think of the season beneath the rustling social fabric, to the bared,
     goose-pimpled flesh of the Earth;
Man: imagine him not in his own context, but in nature’s;
Autumn not as football games and world series and leaf-blowers and costumes and candy.
Is it possible for you to imagine what lies deeper?
A moment of your
Time, a moment of your imagination. Consider:
Of all the festivals of ancient humanity, buried in our genes and memes,
Harvest is deepest.
Of course, it is only as old, really, as agriculture, but
Gathering as it does something of an even older hunter-gatherer tradition
Together with the twining roots of civilization, it is as deep and rich as the best soil,
For Harvest is where Humanity and
Nature entwine mostly closely like sometimes-lovers. Or, anyway, where they did.
It was, 100 years ago, a third of the country who farmed; 200 years ago, 90%. Today the number
Is less than 3%.
A paltry few, and harvest festivals speak to us less as we speak to Nature hardly at all, estranged lovers.
Time was, we felt the season’s celebration in our pulses, in our bones, in our loins, and in Nature's.
Of what essential of the season could we be oblivious?
Sowing with our hands and feet, legs, arms, chests, our hearts and minds, and reaping the same.
Of what, today, are we even aware of this, when we see not our farmers, when we are not our farmers,
     when we know not our farmers,
Scattering them far and wide across the landscape? Seek them
Abroad, in the far country called the past, and in that other distant land, our future.

1 comment:

  1. I'm too braindead to process poetry on a technical level today, but on a purely emotional one, I really enjoyed it. Though I do feel something ancient and visceral calls to us this time of year, regardless of whether we work the soil. Autumn is deep in our DNA.