The Meaning of Work: A Found poem


Courtesy of Wendell Berry's essay, "The Pleasure of Eating".

She was five, left in the care of her grandfather
To spend the weekend on the farm.
He, a little disquieted, so long separated
From both parenting and his own childhood,
Took her with him to finish a chore.
He had a wagonload of dirt for the barn.
Lifting her small body up to the wagon seat,
Then joining her there,
He spoke to the horses, using their names
In that familiar tone they would understand
And they all set off to do the day's work.
They hauled the load slowly,
Going along the hard, gravel path
That runs beneath the leafy trees down by the river.
The rhythmic clop of the hoarses hooves
Measured their progress through the woods.
She, having been given the reigns,
Clucked and stropped the pair
Just as she had seen him do,
Looking up at him occasionally
To see his soft eyes and gentle approval
Encouraging her in her work.
At the barn he unloaded the dirt,
Spread it over the barn floor,
Doing this labor cheerfully,
While she sang to the horses.
He tamped the dirt down and wet it.
The whole barn smelled clean and fresh,
Like the fields always do
After a soft summer's rain.
The late afternoon had grown cold.
He climbed back into the wagon with her
To take the slow ride back to the house.
Both were silent. He worried that
Her silence was from being cold, tired,
Maybe a little homesick.
He could not hurry the horses
And was unsure if he could remember
How to comfort one so young and innocent.
But then, after a while, she looked up and said
In her crystalline voice,
"Pappa, Isn't it fun?"




Dan Doyle. "The Meaning of Work: A Found poem." CERC.

Courtesy of Wendell Berry's essay, "The Pleasures of Eating".

Reprinted with permission of Dan Doyle.


Dan Doyle has taught for 30 years at the high school and university level. He is currently in his 20th year at Seattle University in Seattle, WA. He is an Assistant Professor in the Matteo Ricci College of Seattle University and teaches several Humanities based courses including: The Greek, Roman and Medieval periods, Character Development and a Capstone course called, Unforgettable Books. He has been writing and publishing poems for most of his career. Dan Doyle is on the Executive Board of CERC USA.

Copyright © 2011 Dan Doyle

Subscribe to CERC's Weekly E-Letter



Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.