They Are Farmers

they are farmers
they grind away the cartilage
of their lives prying open
the earth; they labor with
their forceps of steel and wood
kneeling before the womb
of the earth inducing the delivery
of each stone in sweat and pain
from the matrix of the soil, stacking
each upon the other to erect walls
of rock that will circumscribe
their hope for another day of living.

with blades of steel dragged across
the crust of the soil they pierce
the epidermis of the earth, the
compacted detritus of millennia:
decomposing leaves thrust
downward underfoot, disintegrated
bones of conquistadors belched
upward, fossilized flesh of worms
which fed upon kings and whores
ground down to dust having
never seen a glow of dawn
or glaze of starlight until
the stone-hardened hands
thrust a plow into the callous
of the earth, to tear it open
and drop within it a tiny receptacle
of life. every step forward weighted
by the past, the memories of his forefathers
layered in his heart like rings of a tree,
yet his eyes fixed forward on the horizon
beyond which perhaps will sprout
all the tomorrows of his children.

by Seamus O' Brian

Comments (1)

Such a lively poem. The voices of the children (and the mom) ring true. The control of line and imagery are wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.