Where Earth had wrought upon her land,
Enchanting woodlands beautiful,
A man once hewed a patch by hand
For yearly harvests bountiful.
In time, this farmer fells firm trees,
To split their timber into rails.
Within his wits a fence he sees,
A craft constructed without nails.
The beauty of the work is not
The purpose that he has in mind.
He labors while the sun is hot.
A useful thing he leaves behind.
Unyielding ages came and went.
The sower sleeps in sheets of soil.
See now his split-rail fence is bent,
Encroached upon by Terra’s toil.
Encroached perhaps, enhanced as well,
Adorned with vibrant vines that hold
A bird or two to sing or yell,
With sprightly secrets yet untold.
The creeping topsoil caused a lean,
While seasons cracked its surface gray.
Its berries black are not to glean
Nor trim above its skirt of hay.
As mottled by autumnal leaves –
The pasture there, the orchard here –
This artifice with wildlife weaves
No border but a blending dear.
My spirit too bares awkward art,
Elected efforts left behind,
Accomplished habits of the heart,
My character, uniquely mine.
Idyllic heroes set my goal.
Their great example motivates,
But imitation takes its toll.
My progress straggles and abates.
Another drive determines me,
Arising from the clods of ground,
Bequeathed as genealogy,
Whose law unchanging holds me bound.
Designed procedures stay in force.
Each thing has its finality.
In step, creation strolls her course,
Assembling cosmic liturgy.
Beyond this fundamental code,
Which even minerals obey,
Our culture too has paved a road
Directing us along our way.
The limit of our liberty
To shape ourselves the way we choose
Is much like weather’s destiny,
Imposed with scarce a thing to lose.
Though old and gray, I am embraced
By nature, like a vibrant vine.
That’s why my background may be faced,
Fermented like an aged wine.
This process or propensity
Of history gives no offense,
Because my true identity
Has beauty like this weathered fence.