Over at Poetic Asides, the November Poem-A-Day challenge is in full swing. Last Thursday, the prompt was to talk back to a poet. I chose to respond to Wendell Berry, not in disagreement but rather in appreciation. His poem The Real Work begins:
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work.
This slightly awkward rondeau is my response.
Our real work
Our real work puts on a hat and knits
outside a café, takes a drag and spits
into the wind, grinning like it can see
something we don’t – about mortality,
futility, about the shoe that fits
so perfectly we love it while it splits
our soul like weathered skin, until it hits
us in this stranger’s gaze – this cannot be
our real work!
And we are empty, scared out of our wits
by ticking clocks, by love, by snake-filled pits
we never chose. The figure strikes a knee
and we both laugh at our absurdity,
and then trade hats, while on the table sits
our real work.
Oh Andrew, your rondeaus are never awkward. This is wonderful, not just for the music of it–I love the knit hat and switching hats, sharing a laugh, so many great images and emotions -well done!! 🙂
Thanks, Sara! Always nice to hear from you.
smiles…i like th trading of the hats at the end…there is a welcomeness about your verse….pondering at our real work…i have been there….it was when i was with citigroup and eventually left over it to pursue mine…
I think this captures the conundrum very well, with lovely sound also. k.
The work is splendid; the form is perfect. But that experience … And the tragedy is that many people will relate to your words.