A Poem – Fall Garden: Veggie Share Week #17, Wed. 9/28/22
The concept of a life sacrificed to sustain and nourish the bodies of my family has always felt deeply spiritual to me. Whether it’s the vegetables we take from the stem or the meat we eat, our bodies are sustained by something once alive, and now dead, sacrificed. I can’t help make the connection between my spiritual beliefs and Christian beliefs, and wonder about their similarities.
The cycle of birth, growth, and death underlines my daily existence as a farmer. Always touching my awareness is the idea that we live because we eat things that were once alive themselves. Both life and death supports my life. And while I am not religious, I think the experience of being so keenly aware that I am sustained by dirt, sun, life, and death keeps me in experiencing gratitude a religious person might find familiar. While we may get there from different directions, different constructs, different lenses of understanding – there is so much common ground. The poem, Fall Garden by Ruth Haley Barton, is a great example of that… written by a Christian pastor, it speaks to me as a farmer.
I wonder if this will speak to you in some way?
by Ruth Haley Barton
the garden is spent
having given its all.
Cucumber vines lie exhausted on the ground
Tomato plants list to one side
Cornstalks stand dignified and empty
Sunflower faces droop earthward,
shades of their former selves.
All that has not been claimed lies moldering in the dirt—
a bruised tomato, a forsaken pepper…
a misshapen pumpkin, a trampled stalk of beans.
What came from the earth is returning
to the place from whence it came.
There is an intimacy here,
in the fall garden,
gazing at living things in their demise.
I want to avert my eyes, avoid this tender grief.
Is this life or is this death? I cannot tell.
Ah, but there is beauty here
amid all this death and dying.
To have given one’s self fully
at least once
that is the thing.
To have spent oneself in an explosion of color
to have offered one’s body for food,
one’s very soul for nourishment…
It is an unseemly generosity,
beauty of another kind.
the garden says, “This is my life, given for you.”
And we are fed.