after weeks of Wendell Berry
The great Kentucky poet claims it was wrong
to farm the way my father learned to farm,
clearing out fencerows, shooting the ground full
of nitrogen, spraying for broadleaf weeds
and grass and insects and God knows what else,
all to pull two hundred bushels off an acre
of hillside, forsaking cows to the dairymen
and beef to the giant western feedlots.
Wendell's right. The way my father farmed
was hell on women and good horses, and one
of the women was the earth herself. She paid
for how he plowed her: cancer, dead creeks,
a bad heart. But was there some blessedness,
too, in all that persistent attention?
One small man dying slowly in Ohio,
doing his damnedest to feed a hungry world?