an homage to Pieter Breughel
I was the boy on the crew. Harold Townshend
positioned my hands on the scythe: “Don’t chop,
keep the heel to the ground for a long sweep,”
and the tall wheat toppled in neat rows.
We worked the field in squares with straight lines
and the pattern we cut revealed the curve of the land.
Fetching water in tall jugs from the well
I climbed through the cool tunnel of high wheat
clear to the top of the long hill,
and burst struggling for air into the clearing
where the harvesters sat, eating and drinking
under a pear tree, and pears fell around them.
My brother stood high in an apple tree, shaking its limbs
and sending apples down. A cousin gathered them.
It seemed like birth time with the earth nursing us all,
the whole farm, people, crops, the soil
itself, and it had a self, coming together,
and I being born as a man with work to do.
Barry Goldensohn has published six poetry collections and numerous essays. His most recent book is a collection of his poems about music, The Listener Aspires to the Condition of Music. He has a summer job at the New York State Writers Institute at Skidmore College. (updated 4/2012)