Each day I go into the fields

to see what is growing

and what remains to be done.

It is always the same thing: nothing

is growing, everything needs to be done.

Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray

till my bones ache and hands rub

blood-raw with honest labor—

all that grows is the slow

intransigent intensity of need.

I have sown my seed on soil

guaranteed by poverty to fail.

But I don’t complain—except

to passersby who ask me why

I work such barren earth.

They would not understand me

if I stooped to lift a rock

and hold it like a child, or laughed,

or told them it is their poverty

I labor to relieve. For them,

I complain. A farmer of dreams

knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams

knows what it means to be patient.

Each day I go into the fields.


  • W. D.  Ehrhart, "The Farmer" from Beautiful Wreckage. Copyright © 1999 by W. D.  Ehrhart.  Reprinted by permission of Adastra Press.

  • Source: Beautiful Wreckage (Adastra Press, 1999)

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