Poem: The Return

The Return

It snowed again last night, just enough
to cover the ground, not enough
to slow life in any way. You drove right through it,

past the fields and barns, past the forests
with limbs lined with white. Feathers falling.

It is more than a post card. These are working farms.
Cows are being fed and milked.
Steam rises from piles of manure.
Goats too, are milked, Cheese is being made.
Early mornings and late nights. The work continues
no matter the weather.

Here, life is defined by seasons. By weather.
Sun and rain and snow and drought have meaning
beyond the soft contours of the ground,
beyond colors or the lack of colors.

You did not know it, but you needed that reminder,
that return to your summer roots, summers spent
on your grandfather’s farm, feeding pigs
and hoeing peanuts with black men who sang hymns.
My grandfather and I sang along.

In the heat of the day, we would all disperse.
He and I would go to the mill pond deep in the woods
and fish. He used bait. I did not.
It was the being there that mattered.

I spent my lifetime working in cities,
It was a good life and it was part of what has formed me.
but distance and time have a cost. Things get lost.
I had no idea what coming here, to Nowhere, Vermont,
would do to restore my connection to the dirt
that birthed us all.

About this poem

Yesterday one of my readers wrote me a note, reminding me of a past post about my grandfather’s barn in Surry County, Virginia, and about what is lost when we lose connection with the soil. Her note (I am assuming the reader is a she, from the username.) made me pay more attention to the land I passed as I drove from my house to the diner to my studio this morning.

I moved up here 12 years ago. One of the byproducts of moving up here is a reconnection with the country life that I never quite got enough of when I spent parts of my summers at my grandfather’s farm, fifty some odd years ago.

Here in my little corner of Vermont, it is truly rural. Life centers on the cycles of seasons and weather. I can (I don’t always, but I can.) buy almost everything I want to eat from neighborhood farms. People who farm think differently. Work differently. And mostly, it’s good. It reminds you of where we all began, and gives you an appreciation of the small things in life, and in my case, where I came from.

Thank you “BrisaFey”.

Tom

PS: The picture is of a barn just down the road from me. They recently repainted the symbol on the side. The symbol is the Korean Sam Taegeuk, representing a trinity of Heaven (Blue) influencing Earth (Red), which influences Humanity (Yellow), which influences Heaven. The owner of the farm recently repainted it and it is bright.

I am so glad they did that to preserve what I consider a landmark both physically and spiritually to our little area of Vermont. But I still love the faded version that is in the picture, taken last winter.

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