Fish Tea Rice
It is on the Earth that all things transpire,
and only on the Earth. On it, up out of it,
down into it. Wading and stepping, pulling
and lifting. The heft in the seasons.
Knowledge in the bare ankle under water
amid the rows of rice seedlings. The dialogue
of the silent back and forth, the people moving
together in flat fields of water with the patina
of the sky upon it, the green shoots rising up
from the mud, sticking up seamlessly above the water..
The water buffalo stepping through as they work,
carrying the weight of their bodies along the rows.
The wrists of the people wet under the water,
planting or pulling up. It is this Earth that all
meaning is. If love unfolds, it unfolds here.
Here where Heaven shows its face. Christ's agony
flowers into grace, spikes through the hands
holding the body in place, arms reaching wide.
It breaks our heart on Earth. Ignorance mixed
with longing, intelligence mixed with hunger.
The genius of night and sleep, being awake
and at work. The sacred in the planting, the wading
in mud. Eating what is here. Fish, bread, tea, rice.
From THINGS AND FLESH (Graywolf Press, 1999)