Thomas Alan Orr writes and raises rabbits in Shelby County, Indiana. Much of his work focuses on people who live close to the land and struggle to preserve Indiana’s agrarian spirit. His first book of poems, Hammers in the Fog, was published by Restoration Press. His poetry has been featured in Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor, and also appears in Growing Season: A Collection of Poems by Midwestern Poets (Minnesota Humanities Commission), In Whatever Houses We May Visit: An Anthology of Poems That Have Inspired Physicians (eds. LaCombe & Hartman), and In Praise of Fertile Land (PCC Farmland Trust).
Revere the Plough
Just before the beans poke up,
You see him out there, evenings,
Walking the field and picking rocks.
“Hard on the plough,” he says.
“But most guys got too much acreage
To fool with it, hopin’ they’re lucky, I guess.”
His old black dog sits at the edge of the field
Watching intently, wondering, maybe, why
A man would hunt something he can’t even eat.
But the dog is patient, the man persistent.
This care for tools and tended ground
Gives weight to time in the waning light.
So the elders revered the plough, their lives
Bound to the hammered iron kissing ground.
Many a ploughshare bent and broke
On unforgiving stone, and picking rocks
Was a rite of passage for every child
Born to the land that reared them.
Folks from town will sometimes ask about
That old rusty share rescued from the field
And hanging on the wall of the barn.
“What is it, anyway? What use?”
You smile and unburden their ignorance.
Revive the lost. Revere the plough.
The Indiana Humanities Council is posting poems on Think.Read.Talk. by Hoosier poets in celebration of National Poetry Month. Other Indiana celebrations include poetry readings at the Artsgarden (above the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets, Indianapolis), performed each Monday at 12:15 p.m. For a schedule of events, click here.