A Poem About Waiting and Anticipation–“Fallow”

This poem is a poem I would like to dedicate to Richard Gilbert, author of the book Shepherd, for though he has focused in that book on the livestock part of the farming picture, he clearly knows what he is about with the whole scene.  I come myself from farmers on one side of the family, and I come from an area where there are a lot of small family farms, though the area is known best for coal and a burgeoning tourist industry.  I hope you will find something in this poem to reassure and restore you if you are at a time in your day, week, month, year, or life when not much seems to be happening, and you are getting either bored, frustrated, or aggrieved.

Fallow

Times when the fields must lie fallow
And we must learn to appreciate
What is sown wildly
From the next empty field over
  (for what's next over is never really
  empty)
Are harder than times of great industry.
The wind blows, we know
And we watch discontentedly
As strange plants spring up
In our beloved plots,
And not even the revenge we plan to take
Plowing them under and into the ground
In the spring
To improve the soil
Quite makes up to us for the lost time
And the waiting, which seem endless.
Sowing seeds and setting out seedlings
Will be next on our list of things to do
Once we have gotten even
With the weeds and throwbacks
That rule our fields now.
And yet it's far too soon to think
About new life today.
Or is it?
Aren't we always considering
The visions and revisions
That spring up in our off hours,
While we go about the usual tasks,
The support tasks
For our main endeavors?
The fields are just the scene
The hard work just the staging
For our miracle of growth,
Which always amazes us
When it matures correctly
And well.
Though why are we surprised,
Isn't it for this that we fought so
With weather, and soil and sun
And diseases and pests
That threatened to wipe out
Our yield?
And yet it all begins anew,
Every time,
With our being willing to pause,
Let the field become random again,
No choices made,
No daisy or gillyflower upstart
Either favored or excluded
No clover pulled up
Except by the fertilizing beasts,
Who have their own use for it.
So let us not think badly
Of our fallow time,
As if we were doing nothing
When actually we are learning
The patience of the to-be-taught,
The once farther back degree
Of remoteness from our goals,
Which will lead us, we hope,
Eventually
To choose them
With more foresight,
Better grasp of what can grow
Where,
And what our own role is
In the cycles we follow.
For fallow is the divining time
Wherein God sees our hearts
And honors or denies,
In preview,
Our most and least grandiose
Human schemes
Before we even know we have them.
Fallow is a kind of love
For possibilities
Which yet takes all abandonment
To itself as one after another
The particularities fall away
To become our new specific.
Fallow is just the measure
Of where we were
Before we even had a soul's root-clutch
On its Maker for its keep,
And even before
The sky knew how to weep.

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/26/17

Professor Gilbert, if you read this, I hope you will be generous with my understanding of farming procedures; I’m not myself proficient with much other than houseplants!  Shadowoperator

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