If Poetry Were a Field of Grain
If poetry were a field of grain you would be the one harvesting
that field, and distributing it so that others could make the bread
of literature, so that they may sustain themselves and others, so
that they might empower themselves with vision and further their
understanding of the world. Just like Gabriel Oak,
Thomas Hardy's iconic hero of Far from the Madding Crowd,
the one who could stamp out the fire on the roof of the barn and
save the farm, who could resuscitate bloated sheep, and to draw
tarps over the harvest to save it from the winds of the storm.
Gabriel Oak and you: both walking the windrows of the hayed
field, always ready to harvest what has been mown.
I can just see poet Robert Francis
offering you a glass of dandelion wine,
and then decades later my writing
a poem dedicated to you, which offers
an image of bees and grape arbors,
bringing you full circle. This is
an insight into life, at its best.
This mystery that we live and breathe
never does cease to fascinate.
When we can actually see the circle,
as it is set before us, it only becomes
more mysterious. We mine gold
between us. Let the ore of friendship
accrue, and may we be able to distribute
the wealth in an egalitarian fashion—
to everyone and anyone who is in need
of abundance, as it translates into clarity
of purpose and positive intent, as long as
the magnanimity of the message carries us
throughout this day and into others.
Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012); The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Literary Press, 2015); and the winner of the 2018 Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Prize for his book, A Bird Who Seems to Know Me: Poems Regarding Birds & Nature.