Scribed on the fine parchment
of memory are the summers
of previous harvests.
Long tables are full of heaped bowls,
breads baked to a fine crust,
jellies and jams wobbly in the best dishes,
a must for the farmers;
men who had come
to levy up the huge bales of hay
or to harvest the acres of golden corn
with brown silks clinging; husks
to be decided upon.
Year after year,
orchards with apples ready to yield
their crisp skins to children
eager for their first bite
of the autumn’s first fruit.
I watch the years unfold the details
of life requiring care,
in the midst of families
sidelining their needs and interests
to the dark hours when no energy is left
to work into the night.
How hard to be human and make a life
when to make a living
takes all one has to give
and leaves one’s soul,
at times seemingly, bankrupt.
We now sit at a dinner table
and rolling like script before me
are the farmers hoping to get in
just a bit more of what they work
before weather will take away any profit.
We eat the good food from the kitchen
from the hands of ones who already
tire to support by other means
a way of life no longer sustainable.
Civilized life still depends
on the grunt work
of those who love the land;
on the hard work of hearts
whose love of family and ritual
will one day provide a strength
when strength is nowhere to be found.
This Earth classroom demands tuition
for instruction in the art of living.
And fees are incredibly high.
Life is this circle we live in
and meet end to end.
It is with sacred breath we work to keep
the circle intact.
art by Claudia Hallissey