One Day upon my Travel (Poem 2 of 2)
One day upon my travel o’er the hill and through the vale
I came upon a farmer by a post holding a nail.
This is not uncommon since every farmer needs a fence,
But this post stood alone by the small farmhouse’s entrance.
The farmer, too, seemed out of place as on his knees he wept.
His hair was ragged, his eyes were red, and I doubt that he had slept.
Besides having decided to be kind to all I meet,
I also was quite curious, and resigned myself to speak.
“Good sir”, I said respectfully, “why is it that you weep?
And why reside you in your yard in plain view from the street?”
The farmer then looked straight at me. His hair was aged white.
He spoke to me in somber tone of all his spanning life,
“The nail here in my hand once resided in this pole,
As have many others found this post to be their home.
For each time there is a quarrel or a fight that I am in,
This post receives a nail that I will drive into its end.
When the issue has been mended, I remove the iron from the wood,
And you can be quite certain that I have settled it for good.
This latest nail was for my wife, though embarrassing, it’s true,
That in our recent argument my hand, in anger, flew.
When I came unto my senses, the great women I love was gone,
So I chased her down the road hoping to right my recent wrong.
In some time I had caught up with her and apologized in tears.
We decided to remain with each other till the ending of our years.”
“Then why is it you weep”, I asked, “ if all has been made well?”
“I weep over this post”, he cried, “and the story that it tells.”
“But I can see no nails. A man of wisdom you must be!
A man of great forgiveness and a greater man than me.”
“Yes”, cried the man loudly, “ ‘Forgiveness’ too well I know,
But for all my years of living I have no ‘wisdom’ yet to show.”
“You think too little of yourself. Your accomplishment is great.”
“No, I say, good traveler, for you’ve made the same mistake.
You see the post as empty-this is true and may be good-
But there’s still much that can be learned from this unshapely piece of wood.
My life has been set on a simple thing – to stop the trouble I start.
And to this end I’ve had success in each and every part.
But how much greater it would have been to never fight at all!
If that had been my focus this post would stand up proud and tall.
Instead, it stands in shame with every scar quite clearly shown.
Now I see in every dent a person I have known.
The gnarled post you see will never know another use,
But to commemorate the foolishness by which I’ve lived in age and youth.”
With that, he bid me leave and, though my mouth moved to a start,
I thought the better of it and chose to respectfully depart.
I’ll never forget the time I saw a life held in a pole.
Nor the man whose life it was that was buried in its holes.
Now as the road leads onward, I think often of his tale,
And continue on my travel o’er the hill and through the vale…