Fruit of Hallowed Ground

I have turned red clay black by design. The effort
has taken several years of care, burying the dead
leaves fallen as a gift from trees whose roots have
mined greater depths than my spade can reach.

From this ground I have raised some fine tomatoes,
their skin from orange like clay to red as sunset.
Sanguine fruit, sprung from confident soil that has
confided secrets to me. Secrets it tells softly,

Yielding an object now and then, then falling back to let
each article speak its facts. One upheaval revealed
an arrowhead that was far older than I guessed. What language
did it hear? A man muttering to himself,

Wandering through my back yard thirty centuries ago wondering
where that thing went. My shovel accomplished what a man
could not, as the soil does when it grows tomatoes
where a deer either fell or fled a glancing blow.

Another time I turned up a Minié-ball, its torpedo shape
deformed by bone. Lead shined silver and brilliant
where my blade gashed blue-gray patina, opening a raw
wound after all these years, these seasons of conditioning

Hallowed ground where black soil recalls that it was red.
Brief arcs those projectiles followed, followed by an endless
spiral. For me to lift them from the earth causes but a
momentary flutter in their parallel dive into infinity.

 

November 21, 2004

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