Words Written in Earth

The plow wrote in the earth,
a long tract, a dictum,
swaying right to left
and left to right,
leaving its message
serpentine in the dust;

the plowman’s sweat
in the hot sun
dimpled the soil —
diacritical marks
left for emphasis,
to erase doubt,
to ensure that
the message was clear.

When the grain grew,
it carried the message
in each of its kernels,
unspoken, unwritten
words burning inside.

The scythes came
cutting down the stalks,
feet trampled the furrows,
and threshing rods beat
chaff from wheat,
erasing the message from the land,

and the people baked bread
from the wheat and ate it,
and perhaps the message written
in a man’s toil and sweat
scratched into the living earth
became a part of them,
if they chose to listen:
work hard so we may live,
live so that we will be remembered,
remember, so that we will never die.

[Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Nevada, but currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and son. Her poetry has received Rhysling, Dwarf Star, and Pushcart nominations and has appeared in over fifty journals, including F&SF and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Analog and Galaxy’s Edge. For more about her work, including her novels, short stories, and her Elgin-nominated poetry collection, The Gates of Never, please see http://www.edda-earth.com.] 

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