digging

they got up in the dark
those early salt-cured men
to gouge another shovelful
pyramid the clay one day their fellow
incrementing an ordained hollow
brothers left would fill in
and mark with upright and horizontal

the ordinary fished and tilled
harvested wildflower honey
learning from the hive diligence
and the unimportance of individual
while the literate sat where the light was
and delved quilled illuminated visions

all came together at dusk
to chant pray eat in quiet
sweat of the hour dried by cool reflection
most content with dreams
scooping doubt from the heart
a few examining purpose and place
among the stars when flint-faced night
quarried again submission

41 thoughts on “digging

  1. Promise, inquisitiveness and inevitability homogeneously blended and examined with the spirited push of your inked nib across the paper. Flesh and imagination, powerful, weak and fleeting. I will wrestle with these words as I attempt to resolve their significance to my mortality which without question defines me with absolution. This is soul touching heart searching for me John. Ever your friend, Jon Michael

  2. I like the way in which this contrasts different occupations whilst reminding us that, in the end, we are all the same. And in this way it works well metaphorically too: despite our journey our point of arrival is perhaps the same too. Well, that was how I read this. Fine work, John.

    • Great and sensitive response, Chris.
      i suppose monastic life is or was a microcosm of society at large
      but i wouldn’t have enjoyed digging my own grave a shovelful
      at a time every night but that’s what certain orders did; the practice is, i believe, no more.

      Thank You as always for the marvelous support

      Ever

      john

      • That’s thrown a little more light on your inspiration for this, John, thanks. Not a bad idea to plan ahead, mind, who knows when the reaper’s scythe will fall!

  3. A glimpse into the world of “classes” in history as only you can tell so succintly and beautifully. thank you John.
    Love
    Holly

  4. Wonderful poem, as always, John, and I love these two lines: most content with dreams
    scooping doubt from the heart…sending hugs and blessed Easter wishes…

  5. It was the peace at the end of their days that spoke to me – the last paragraph was perfect in taking me to the quietness of that place. Happy Easter to you Uncle John.

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