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     Digging
by Seamus Haney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Photo credit: Giovanni Giovannetti

{Poem excerpted from Death of a Naturalist…]


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Quetzal performs “Todo lo que tengo (All that I have)”:

Venus Mourns America
Marlene Dumas, artist
Art in America cover, June/July 2017


– excerpted from The Triumph of Freedom by William Lloyd Garrision

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Denis Johnson
July 1, 1949 – May 24, 2017

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
and not by the century, or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully, as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never
seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere,
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters,
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

– Mary Oliver

Been a difficult week. After spending most of it parsing data and creating a detailed worksheet, found out yesterday afternoon that the information that I had been fed was wrong.

I thought of this line, “The best laid plans…”

When I repeated it to someone, they didn’t understand. Then I realized, that although I knew this fragment, I didn’t really know where it came from other than it was an old poem.

So I looked…and found Robert Burns’ To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough (Scot’s Tae a Moose).

Here are the last two stanzas (original and modern translation):

burns

It’s Friday…keep moving…

mouse-and-grapesMouse and Grapes
Ding Yanyong
ink and wash painting

 

pastan poem 2

portrait-of-juliette-courbetPortrait of Juliette Courbet As A Sleeping Child
Gustave Courbet, 1841
Graphite on paper

© Bill Israel

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