Thursday, July 8, 2010


Poem of the Day:
Donald Hall's "Ox Cart Man"
Fifty Years of American Poetry

Hall creates for us the image of that which self-sustains. He writes of a man, the "Ox Cart Man," who mines potatoes in October (lines 1-5), shears and bags wool in April (line 6).

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
counting the seed, counting
the cellar's portion out,
and bags the rest on the cart's floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather
tanned from deerhide,
and vinegar in a barrel
hopped by hand at the forge's fire.

He then sells it all, including his cart and his ox, at the Portsmouth Market, returning home with the glint of silver.

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year's coin for salt and taxes

Having sold what he sowed, he begins, out of necessity, to restore himself and his livelihood, stitching a new harness for the new ox, carving the new yoke for the new cart that will carry the new load to the same market.

In the rhythm that Hall's "Ox Cart Man" portrays, life is defined as a pattern of breaking and restoring, of selling off everything in an act of renewal and then rebuilding.

Our bodies follow a similar rhythm. When we push too hard we must make time to restore.

Coming upon Friday, I have noticed this same rhythm in my weeks. Monday and Tuesday I am renewed, bringing all my weekend wares to sell at the market. By Thursday I return home, perhaps richer but my energy field is barren. I must sleep, eat and rebuild, minding always Hall's wise voice.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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