Brooding On

A Little Light

In light of Sunday morning, this week has been a sad one for me.  It makes me want to stop and just be with my thoughts.  Alas, life maintains its hectic pace despite my contemplative mood.  But, John sat down beside me at the mercifully quiet end of a long summer day and said, "You're going to really like this one. Listen."  and I did listen, and I did like it.  Not only did I like it, but I needed it.  Maybe you do, too. 


For you, a poem . . . or, a slice of the one he read me, at least --  a quite delicious slice.


And all the summer long

You're putting up hay;

You clip the pastures, keep

The fences up, repair

Your buildings, milk your cows;

You wean the lambs; you move

The livestock to new grass;

And you must walk the fields

With hoe in hand, to cut

The thistles and the docks.

There is no end to work --

Work done in pleasure, grief,

Or weariness, with ease

Of skill and timeliness,

Or awkwardly or wrong,

Too hurried or too slow. 

One job completed shows

Another to be done.

And so you make the farm

That must be daily made

And yearly made, or it

Will not exist. If you

Should go and not return

And none should follow you,

This clarity would be

As if it never was.

But praise, in knowing this,

The Genius of the place,

Whose ways forgive your own

And will resume again

In time, if left alone.

You work always in this

Dear opening between

What was and is to be.


And so you make the farm,

And so you disappear

Into your days, your days

Into the ground. Before

You start each day, the place

Is as it is, and at

The day's end, it is as

It is, a little changed

By work, but still itself,

Having included you

And everything you've done.

And it is who you are,

And you are what it is.

You will work many days

No one will ever see;

Their record is the place.

This way you come to know

That something moves in time

That time does not contain.

For by this timely work

You keep yourself alive

As you came into time,

And as you'll leave: God's dust,

God's breath, a little Light.



--  excerpted from Wendell Berry's "IX The Farm." 1991.  This Day:  Collected and New Sabbath Poems