The Poetry of Farming: A Poem for February 9, 2017

“The poetry of Earth is never dead,” wrote John Keats. And now, centuries later, young farmer Cristina Cosentino agrees.

My relationship with poetry has a sense of urgency very similar to that of livestock. When it calls, you answer, as I did the morning of February 9, 2017, while doing morning livestock chores and enjoying a blizzard walk along the North Shore sound.

Lil lamby snow ball ?

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February 9, 2017

I arrive in a hurry before the sunrise
covered in flurries with frantic wide eyes
to a pile of wool, gathered perhaps nine high
relaxed and amused huddled under the pine.

The sheeps’ wool collects snow with tidbits of hay,
knotting in clusters like frozen bouquets,
coiled and tangled, they’ll continue to fray
under the linen of winter’s dismay.

The lambs collect most, forming little grass fluff balls,
and I trudge over happy, completely enthralled,
in the warm wooly smell of dry straw in their stall
but an anxious old pony relentlessly calls

A soft blanket falls and tucks us all in
like when my mother draws a down all the way up to my chin.
It floats over slowly as I feel sleep begin
and the rams huddle lambs in embrace so akin.

Snow flakes and hay flakes both now widely spread,
as hot cups of coffee swirl warmth through my head.
“I can’t believe winter is thought of as dead
when so much of life, tucked away, stays unread.”

Every foot step is muddled as I walk toward the sound,
somewhere beyond the white wall bluegrass and ryegrass abound.
The dull isolation lulls me into a freeze so profound
so I rest in an oak crevice as wind whips northeast and earthbound.

A red fox fleets by, barely rising each leap,
his head is drawn down, and I watch him outleap
the bullets of water, by this time knee-deep,
deawing contrast against this unkempt wild peace.

“Stay inside,” they all say, though I hardly agree
and much prefer the shelter of a hollow oak tree,
as the north wind shoots down and my eyes barely see
while my wet rosey face smiles and shivers with glee.

My eyes jet to sealed windows under black pony bars
and I wonder how thunder can reach from so far.
The walls of my barn ring with dull taps of bark
and invisible birds sing sweet muted songs from afar.

A loud boom rattles the heavy white trees.
All those still asleep now awake with unease.
To whom does this harsh winter drumming appease?
The young farmer, intent on transmuting unease.

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Cristina Cosentino is a food journalist with background in Italian studies, dedicated to sustainable agriculture, food policy and Italian gastronomy.