Literary Hook: Finding renewal through rest

July 3, 2013

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Here is a poem about the need for giving things a rest to find renewal. It was inspired by seeing an unplanted field in early summer.

Fallow

The fallow field absorbs the rain,

which turns its soil deeper brown.

The farmer has left it unplanted

until the elements have nourished

just the right environment for growing.

The wise farmer does this by intention.

I remind myself of this when friendships

strain and blow like parched topsoil.

Or when a surprising impasse enters

a conversation or a project, I try

to leave it alone for awhile. This,

despite what psychologists may say,

is not passive-aggression. Sometimes

waiting is just waiting, which requires

intentional patience and hope for rain.

I remind myself of that intentional farmer

when writer’s block makes my mind shrivel

like a dry field, sprinkled only with weeds,

not one worth picking. I have learned

to let my mind go fallow. After all,

all things need a rest. Even marriage

needs a recess now and then.

The trick is to lie down in your own corner

on your own blanket and take a nap.

In marriage, we are all kindergartners.

A nap is like a fallow field,

empty and ready for renewal.

Love that lasts will have its barren patches.

Once I planted milk pod seeds deep in the soil.

The first year they lay fallow. Not one

sprouted in the garden. Two years later

dozens nestled near the phlox

and sunflowers. Today monarchs lay eggs

on milk pod leaves. Butterflies are hatching.

First published in Chiron Review.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards.

From the July 3-9, 2013, issue

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