Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Plowing Behind a Mule and My Garden” by Carol Hamilton, Poet of the Month

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Plowing Behind a Mule and My Garden” by Carol Hamilton, Poet of the Month.  Ms. Hamilton will also be serving as the guest judge for the Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest, which will run from September 1 to October 15, 2015.  A detailed biography of Ms. Hamilton may be found here:  The contest guidelines may be previewed here:

Plowing Behind a Mule and My Garden
Carol Hamilton

Jimmy Carter c. 1943
Jimmy Carter tells of how hard
to plow a straight row, the complexity
of depth and angle of blade, the training
of a young beast fastened to the side
of a veteran, learning, and I think of how
even a mule knows more of cultivation
than I, long-time and hopeful gardener.
I am my own beast of burden.
I stir up the buried weeds that choke,
sow too early or too late in scant soil.
Nevertheless, I cannot give up my gritty fingers,
my mud-spattered ankles,
my hopeful scratchings in soil.
This exercise is too elemental,
this sharing of space with buzz and flitter,
the wings that lilt past. 
Still, this morning, reading
of Carter's capable Emma,
who knew what she was doing,
I become the hard taskmaster of myself.
I chide me for landing several rungs down
below the mule on Linnea's chart,
she who cannot even reproduce herself.
Today I am that low down!

Poet’s Notes:  As so often, a poem born of reading about something never thought of before, of facts never known. How can I not wish to carry within me the wisdom of a simple beast?

Editor’s Note:  My mother kept an award-winning garden, though she eschewed the awards when offered.  My father was the mule for her until the day he died.  Sadly, I live too far away from her to take over as mule--one of my deepest regrets.  

As President Jimmy Carter fights perhaps his last battle against cancer, it is fitting to remember his simple folk wisdom, politics aside.  “Plowing Behind a Mule and My Garden” was originally published in Illya’s Honey.

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