Saturday, October 26, 2019

Sow Words, Harvest Poems

Poetry in Motion and the theme was harvest. The venue was Inverness Cathedral. The poets – eight or nine were ready to weave words.

Is it just a memory of mine? Churches stuffed with produce, celebrating harvest? Or were we a month late? I remember school and its links with a parish church, collecting stuff and handing it over to the vicar. I remember singing, “we plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land.” I remember thanking God for His almighty hand feeding and watering. There always seemed to be a lot of fruit and vegetables, fresh and tinned stacked at the front, and loud celebrations of God’s goodness. We were a rural community and someone had woven corn dollies. I think we celebrate too little these days.

A clutch of violin and cello players practiced at the front of the cathedral. They weren't always in harmony. That's why they were practicing, The statue of Jesus might have turned his head just a little to hear better.

I began a four-line verse of a farmer at one with nature, conscious that the harvest was a gift. I remembered watching a documentary about environmentally friendly farming. A man and his tractor begin in the centre of the field working slowly outwards. Anything that lived in the field, the hares, the field mice, the shrews and voles were chased safely to the edges rather than herded to the centre.

He lives at one with nature
Land and soil a precious gift
Seeds to plant in crumbled brown
A harvest given, his to lift

I added a second verse

He raises eyes, gaze fixed above
Praise on his lips, so much to say
Takes not for granted natures fruit
The yield that comes his way

We live with intensive farming. Every ear of corn collected. Nothing left behind. We exploit the soil and forget that we share the planet with others. We are always told that there isn’t enough. The truth is there is plenty to share. And there you have it, that word we don’t like – “share”.

A softer poem emerged. Not a third person poem. Not a poem observing the action of someone I’m not. This poem spoke to the greedy, grasping heart in me.


Do not reap to the edge of the field
Do not grasp every last stalk, every final ear
Do not count and count again and
Conclude there isn’t enough
Nature gifts fruit and flowers
Seed, source and substance
Receive gently with an open palm
Stretch generosity like the long autumn shadows
Abundance is there for
Birds and beasts, vast and small
Yours is only a slice, not the whole
Leave enough to meet another’s need
The yield that comes your way is for sharing

Another poem, not my own, spoke of the seeds we plant that we don’t leave long enough in the soil to see the harvest. We are left desolate and unfulfilled because we won’t give time for something precious to emerge. As she read her poem, a first draft, missing a line or two, she wiped a tear away. We have so much potential. We have the capacity to change the world, not always for ourselves but for others. Things, people, dreams – they don’t flourish and bear fruit, because we don’t give them the time they need.

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