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“A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands,
How could I answer the child?
I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition,
out of hopefull green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child,
the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means,
Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff,
I give them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring
taken soon out of their mothers’ laps.
And here you are the mothers’ laps.
This grass is very dark
to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate
the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers,
and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think have become of the young and old men?
And what do you think have become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life,
and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
~ from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
Peace is a Patient Farmer
A new world waits to be born –
wave after wave brings us closer
to the mystic shore. Some sing,
generous with fate, to distant
Mountains in the North. Some
sleep at the feet of the gentle ones.
Here, you cannot travel
without first finding it within.
Peace is a patient farmer
who rises before the light.
Do not mourn the past
for all great minions fall away.
The wild breathless pace
of change continues.
Days give way to nomad years
and with them, the forgiven
sins of men. Under turquoise skies
we plow the fields
of a thousand blazing
(Written by Jessica Thompson. First published in Nomad’s Choir, Spring 2010.)
My free-verse poem “Peace is a Patient Farmer” has been published in the Spring 2010 issue of Nomad’s Choir, a small press journal that has been publishing poetry for over twenty years. Copies are available for $1.50 by sending a check to editor Joshua Meander – a fine poet in his own right. You can subscribe for $5.oo and get four issues a year. So pull out that $5 bill, put it into an envelope and mail to:
30-15 Hobart F4H
Woodside, NY 11377.
You can submit your poetry to the same address.