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.