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By W.D. Ehrhart

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)

  • Activities
  • Nature
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

W.D. Ehrhart
W.D. (William Daniel) Ehrhart was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He joined the US Marine Corps in 1966 after graduating from high school and served until 1969; he spent 13 months of his service in Vietnam. Ehrhart then went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. He has since worked as a high school teacher, merchant seaman, reporter, and legal aide for the Pennsylvania Department of Justice. An active lecturer and speaker, he has published memoirs and essays about Vietnam. See More By This Poet

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