One of my early memories is of riding behind my uncle as he drove the tractor, plowing the fields. I loved to see the earth turn over on itself, forming ridges.I wrote this poem as a tribute to farmers and the farming life.
Ridge and Furrow
Spring is the starting season. Tractor tows,
plow plunges into earth, cuts the trench
and folds deeper dirt bottom-side up. Earthworms
glisten in the rich, ready soil. Ridge and furrow,
furrow and ridge roll across the land.
Next comes the harrow, its sharp spikes
crushing heavy clods of dirt into smaller clumps,
smoothing the land, grooming the earth.
The farmer rises at dew-filled dawn to
drive the tractor true; sits dry and dusty
under the welcome shade of a solitary tree,
chews his lunch and drinks lemonade; works
through cricket dusk, dreaming of golden grain.
Behind the tractor the chattering, row-straddling
drill pokes the dirt, depositing seeds. Tucked into rich
ready furrows, the seeds will sprout, the sprouts
will shoot up into crops — wheat, rye, corn, soy.
Summer is the growing season. Rubber-hoofed
tractor pulls the cultivator, uprooting weeds.
When crop tops tickle the tractor bottom,
the farmer knows: time to rest the machines.
Bees buzz acres of grain; butterflies flutter;
quail and pheasants nest. Rabbits hop
among the ridges and deer browse,
hidden behind abundant stalks.
Autumn is the reaping season. Mighty machines
snort. Combines, balers, pickers —the farmer
rides them hard, racing against the weather.
No time to lose, act quickly or lose the crops.
Everybody jumps to at harvest. Bale the hay,
thresh the wheat — gather, gather the crops.
Make hay while the sun shines because tomorrow
threatens to damage the entire yield.
At last the reaping is complete and farm families
celebrate: hay rides, apple cider and potluck
suppers. Rejoice, for the farmers’ crops
can feed the world.
In the satisfied fields crickets chirp and crows
caw over solitary seeds of grain. Low and full,
the harvest moon shines on stubble.
Winter is the sleeping season. Bare furrows
and ridges ripple around hills and along
creeks. Dusted with snow, they adorn Earth’s face.
Winter’s weight flattens furrow and ridge as
Earth collapses inward for a long sleep.
Finally the snow melts, though frost remains.
Days grow longer and warmer.
The farmer checks the tractor and plow.
Spring is the starting season. Plow
plunges and turns the soil. Earth
embraces herself row after row.
Furrow and ridge, ridge and furrow,
the farming life.
Barbara Gregorich has published one book of poetry: Crossing the Skyway.