Some say a city is a sin
and a farm is a blessing.
I know more these days
of city and sin, although
I grew up near such graces,
spent little time there, knew them
only in passing from car windows
and bike rides.
In my home town we had dairy farms
that grew corn to feed the cows,
with farm stands built of scrap wood
selling vegetables on the edges of gravel lots
full of dusted cars and families
selecting just the right tomatoes and such.
Some of those stands worked
by the honor system — leave your money
in the box, take what you need;
they weren’t robbed often, if you can believe it.
I promise you they were there, and they may still be there.
They may still feed the people of my hometown
and the small towns around it.
I have friends who say they’re still there,
and I believe them no matter how far away
they seem to me now here where produce
is found only upon misting shelves in cold aisles,
or an urban farmer’s market once a week
in a gravel lot full of people
from all over this city:
a blessing in the center of sin,
if sin it is. I will not call it a sin
although the dream of a farm
is powerful salvation when the asphalt
is steaming after a rain that falls
on ground that cannot grow a pure thing
if if can grown anything at all; maybe
a city is a sin and all the God there is
is only found out there in the smell
of fresh-turned soil. I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I hold earth
in my hand I feel something
I do not feel often here,
and when I do, I want to cry out
that I have missed this
for a long, long time now
and holding this
takes me somewhere close
to the blessing
I once called home.