This poem is, of course, a (poor) tribute to Wendell Berry’s “The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer.”

The Farming Father

By Jesse McDougall

I hear the farm, and it has your voice.

The sunflowers beside me drink and
drench themselves in northern summer.
Melons grow fat and roll under
the shade of their own leaves.

Cicadas sing in the sun, and I dig my feet
into the black soil of the garden.
It cools me and I feel rooted.

The sun sets. I eat. And I take a book
as comfort from colorful shelves.
I pick up my boy and feel his weight.
I read. I read it again. I lay him in his crib.

Then in the dark, I kneel—sad for the world.
“What do you need of me?” I ask the land,
or no one, or maybe the ghosts in the room.
Ideas come, but I do not know if they are answers.

Frogs from the window sing to the moon
and the cool night flows down to the valley floor.
The river there, once meandering, now hurries to the sea.