LOOK IT OVER by Wendell Berry 

Received a letter from Dad today,
poetry enclosed, as is his habit:

"Here's a poem by the Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry.
It may be almost the perfect poem for me,
so I wanted y'all to read it too..."


I leave behind even
my walking stick. My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot. I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book. I go
into the woods. I sit down on
a log provided at no cost.
It is the earth I've come to,
the earth itself, sadly
abused by the stupidity
only humans are capable of
but, as ever, itself. Free.
A bargain! Get it while it lasts!

SAGUARO by Brenda Hillman 

Often visitors there, saddened  
by lack of trees, go out  
to a promontory.

Then, backed by the banded  
sunset, the trail  
of the Conquistadores,

the father puts on the camera,  
the leather albatross,  
and has the children

imitate saguaros. One
at a time they stand there smiling,  
fingers up like the tines of a fork

while the stately saguaro  
goes on being entered
by wrens, diseases, and sunlight.

The mother sits on a rock,  
arms folded
across her breasts. To her

the cactus looks scared,  
its needles
like hair in cartoons.

With its arms in preacher  
or waltz position,  
it gives the impression

of great effort
in every direction,  
like the mother.

Thousands of these gray-green  
cacti cross the valley:  
nature repeating itself,

children repeating nature,  
father repeating children  
and mother watching.

Later, the children think  
the cactus was moral,
had something to teach them,

some survival technique  
or just regular beauty.
But what else could it do?

The only protection  
against death
was to love solitude.


"Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends." ~ Oscar Wilde