Virtue of rest

My garden rests
naked. Heavy, laden with rain,
autumn-drained from its growth
and summer-serfdom of daylight
from the restless chlorophyll mechanics
grinding green through its roots and its limbs
to twigs into leaves.
from the nagging persistence of warmth
to grow, and to grow
to capture the day. To always improve.
Now garden rests in reek of decay…

… and we are clear the shrubs for the trees
bending my father exclaims
“Do the best you can,
don’t postpone what could be done today*
he chain me to duty
with his lutheran zeal
by working through the day
“Use daylight for what’s good”
and like the faithful servant
watched his master’s garden
rewards will come through obedience —
“Doing your best”.
but as the woods reeks with decay…

… my father died a bitter man,
unrewarded, bound to his duty,
still living through work he never could finish.
I try to drink from this darkness —
breathe in the fall, its rot
to disconnect, finding my rest
from summer enslavement of growth
from chlorophyll green
     and clearing for trees.

I have my last hosting at toads today, and it’s an old favorite. Using flashbacks in poetry and especially the use of a device such as a scent or a sound to pull you into the flashback.
November 14, 2019

23 responses to “Virtue of rest

  1. The older generation believed in the gospel of work, but the way world governments and economic systems are going, young people have become atheists or out and out heretics when hit with that sort of preaching. How freeing it would be to let things go, get some natural rest, and find that life can be enjoyed more deeply this way.

  2. My mother shared your father’s Lutheran zeal except in her case it was Methodist zeal. And like hour father (if you are writing autobiographically), it never brought her happiness.

    Love this prompt, Bjorn. Yes, it IS challenging. That’s a good thing.

  3. I found the final stanza deeply emotive.. but I can understand your father’s wisdom in using daylight, given the brevity of light in the Northern climes, especially in Winter.

  4. I enjoy your autobiographical poems as much as the librarian poems, Björn, as both have so much of you in them, which you are sharing with your readers. It’s also interesting to learn about life in other parts of the world and other times. I love the description of the garden in the first stanza and the shift from the garden reeking of decay into the flashback, and your father chaining you to duty with his Lutheran zeal. The final stanza is poignant and, in my mind, I pictured you standing beneath the naked limbs of trees, just breathing.

  5. A challenging prompt- and you did well with it.
    These are the things- for better or worse- that
    shape us. It reminds me of how work-shy the young ones are these days.

  6. There will always be work to be done, how interesting that it is the scent of decay and a naked garden that reveals a body of work.

  7. There is a lesson in there for us to chose the path wisely and not end up being bitter with the results. Lovely verse and thank you for the wonderful prompt.

  8. Most of us whose family had a garden will remember working at request and awing at what can be done. An unusually good potato crop harvested paid the doctor for my birth. I have found memories of helping in our potato patch. Plus, I still love raw potatoes, and with salt if I have it.
    I’ve been enjoying your promoting and can hardly wait for your return for more. Part of that is the engineer in me (Aerospace related).

  9. Björn, this was a strong final prompt, and you sculpted a memory worthy of it. It’s almost a complex contradiction of a respectful elegy…

    I like the idea of taking a moment to breathe in lieu of keeping the old nose to the grindstone; learning to appreciate nature in lieu of constantly working to tame it even as you revere your father’s work ethic. Good stuff, my friend.

  10. Extremes are never good. Your dad’s way of all work led to bitterness for him. It sounds like it may have led to mixed feelings for you regarding relaxing. I can relate to that. Having a strong work ethic is a double-edged sword.

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