Death of a Farmer
“What a place to die!”
My father’s form, bib-overalled, lay prone
In horse-tromped hay and weedy loam, his head
Lap-held by his child son now suddenly
Grown man. “I closed his eyes,” he said,
“And held his jaw.”
My mother’s cry
Was anguish—yet what fitter place for him,
On land he tilled for these last thirty years?
The stable where he housed his first young flock
Already ghosted by the move to town,
Rain-leached, wind-dried, his only meager shade
The nests of sparrows in the willowed shed.
The cabin where he brought her as a bride
Is gone, the chicken coop, the river gate.
The well was here, the granary stood there,
The woodpile and the ax—I see them now
Between the banks of orchard, ringed by fence
And poplar trees, since yielded to his plow.
His small-boned feet are shrunken in his shoes,
His work-scarred hands relaxed, soil-grimed,
Still shovel-handle curved; his hat aside,
The tall form spare, his chiseled nostrils still—
Breathed in, breathed out, and not breathed in again,
Between the water-turn and shocking wheat,
In one convulsive, crucifying pain.
Death waives decorum, neither waits the bath
On Saturday, the Sunday shave, the tie,
But took him as he was. And so do I.
Within these quiet walls
let my hands be at rest;
let me cease traffic with
all idle thoughts.
If I have brought with me
earth stains of doubt or fear,
let me not keep them long.
In these few hallowed hours,
Father, help me to see
all I was meant to be—
release my sacred powers.
Let me emerge again
more fully thine indeed,
feeling thy grace and power
filling my every need.
From the Land of Song
From Conway and Caerphilly,
From Caerleon and Caerwent,
From Llanelly and Llangollen,
From the Gower and the Gwent,
From the castled-heights of Harlich,
And the glen of Aberfan,
From the white-capped crags of Snowdon,
And Caermarthen and Cwmbran,
It’s the magic of the voices
Whispering through the vales,
And deep within this breast of mine
They call, “Come back to Wales.”