“The things of this earth will grow strangely dim . . .”
As I work the wet June earth I wonder what fruit
will grow from seeds with names like Green Zebra
and Golden Jubilee, why I dig holes and scrape soil
around the roots of seedlings when I can buy good tomatoes
in season at market. All these years I’ve loved the flesh,
the scent rising from the earth between my thighs as I squat,
hands deep in soil, sweat beading on my husband’s back
as he spades, the teat of my son’s hair at his nape
as he stoops to retrieve pebbles. All my life I have tried
to live as though the body is the soul, as though
planting and reaping were prayer. But what if the body
is merely the perishable fruit around the kernel
of the soul, the earth absorbing what’s left,
harboring only seeds of next year’s volunteers?
—Ann Hostetler (Elkhart County)
This poem originally appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review.
Ann Hostetler is the author of Empty Room with Light: Poems and editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in many journals including The American Scholar, The Cresset, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Quiddity, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, where she also edits the online Journal for the Center of Mennonite Writing at www.mennonitewriting.org.
Poetry Prompt: A Work Activity
Write a poem—possibly an unrhymed sonnet—that vividly describes an indoor or outdoor work activity and meditates upon its significance. The activity could be something you do alone or with others. Use language that reflects your close familiarity with this activity. Pay special attention to verbs.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.