"Soul Work"

This was written in mid July after planting rice with the Pygmy young men and children at Ikengo. It’s an attempt to describe and account for the feeling of being so closely observed by one of the Pygmy youngsters while I filled the hole with dirt after planting the rice seed.

“Soul Work”

Just a pinch of seed/

You take and leave/

In the bed; the earth/

Crumbles beneath your touch./


This earth, a mix rich and strange,/

Teeming and foreboding,/

We handle microbes and nutrients,/

Imaging green shoots from doom./

Joints and muscles sigh/

Moving to rhythms of grace/

In the field to be,/

Now a grid of holes./

A rice harvest in the making/

In foreign fields and laboratory,/

The strain now here well studied,/

A product of microscope and cerebellum,/

From that other realm which yields/

Products but not the secrets/

Of its enthralling power;/

Behold, here now an acolyte./

He plants with us with such care,/

Laborious in filling the earth;/

His industry fascinates;/

It is not our way./

We are sprites from the forest,/

Kin to the fireflies dancing/

Before they lay a constellation/

Of stars in the grass./

To laugh is our industry,/

Our calling to live/

In the darkest, deepest places/

With, but why claim this?, our own secrets./


This one has come to plant with us/

A field of rice, and we stare/

In wonder for he plants differently/

And we all may eat this rice together./