Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Memoriam: The Destiny of Wheat

Today is the anniversary of the death of my brother Simpson in 1991.

A poem in his memory:

The Destiny of Wheat

"The ear of wheat, (in Latin spica, obsoletely speca, from spe, hope,) should not be the only hope of the husbandman; its kernel or grain (granum, from gerendo, bearing,) is not all that it bears. How then can our harvest fail?" Thoreau, Walden

You cannot hide in the wheat.

When the wind whips you to its golden bowels
In your time of torment,
You'll think you've found shelter from the storm forever,
Down in the dark furrows where field mice run,
Where storms tunnel houses of the grainstalks,
And one could live days on end hugging sweet cakey earth,
Looking up at sky so blue it penetrates the mind
With its sharp clearness awash with wind.

But what will you do when the bronze leaf
Tendrils down the clean fall air
To bray its clarion call,
Ablaze with all the sun the summer hoarded for this day alone?

You'll raise your head to sing it home,
And all will be lost.

No, you cannot hide in the wheat.

What will you do when day turns night
And mice no longer scamper, but freeze transfixed
Before the owl's unblinking oleaginous eye,
As doves whimper sadly in their sleep off in the woods
Beside the field, and big blacksnakes slide silently
Down the ordered rows of grain?

You'll run out, out, into the glistening starlight
And find yourself exposed:

You cannot hide in the wheat.

You cannot hide in the wheat where maelstroms
Will surely come, and all the stalks upstanding
Fall to mown rows round you, and then where will you be?

Don't you see? You cannot hide,
Cannot hide in the wheat.

You cannot hide where reapers reap,
Where lifted grain will fall to dusty harvest
Once for all, its journey done,
To be ground and pummeled, shaped to find its home at last
As finest bread for hungry mouths.

And what but wheat can bear such destiny?