In Praise of Dirt


I’ve come to praise the dirt.
To shed the dogma
of church and state.
To move like horses
along the highway,
praising heaven not up in the clouds,
but here in the dirt.

I’ve come to walk
the fields of the Midwest,
to feel the risk of living
with or without the minister’s blessing,
to find completeness in the broken white ship
of an old stag’s bones
lowering to rest after fifteen seasons.

I’ve come to praise the dirt,
no longer fearing the grave digger’s shovel
clinking the earth, or the insurance men
arriving to manipulate the future
like a hand pulled across a harp.

Here, out along the furrows,
the barn a dark sail against the sun,
the wind passes like a struck be;;.
My own breaths slow enough
to recognize the moment,
my face an emerald,
like Lao Tzu tasting vinegar with a smile.

I’ve come desiring not more or less,
but to welcome
the simplicity of walking home
to my wife as she unbuttons her shirt
in the shadows of the room,
the faint smell of dirt
still on her fingertips
from working in her garden.

Peter Bethanis