WHAT OTHER FOLK MEAN

You’d think
when not obliged to
he wouldn’t go out in the fields.
Rather lie on the ground
and drink himself stupid.
Sing sad songs.
Or dream of the day
when he -
or his heirs -
would be free.

Instead,
winter or summer,
rain or sun,
in the hot midday or the freezing night —
there he is, slaving away.
Hoeing, sowing, reaping, tending -
treating each plant as if it were his
and he would gain from its growth.


Doesn’t he know?
Doesn’t he mind?
Yes, he sometimes tries to say:
of course.
But that’s the only life
he has,
the only love,
and should he give it up…
Generally, however, he keeps quiet.
Why explain?
They wouldn’t understand,
and even if they did,
although they ask,
they don’t really care.
Better to save your breath,
your energy,
for that.
And for those rare, great days
when, out amidst the crops,
you find some red perfect poppy
growing wild,
and you get a sort of inkling
of what other folk mean
when they talk about God.

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