Sunday, December 27, 2009

Digging

Welcome to the Christmas season! Hope you all had a great holiday. We've had about a foot of snow here in Chicago over the last 48 hours. It's that great dry kind that drifts down silently and crunches under the soles of your shoes. I've got about 5 more days here until I return to New York. I'm going to try and post most days this week. We'll see how it goes.

Two other pieces of business. First, if you check the comments from the last entry (for Christmas -- Shine On, You Crazy Diamond), you'll see that St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association, in Ireland (!) wrote to publicize their blog. If you're in the hunt for blogs, you might want to check them out.

Also -- some might remember that I had in fact said I would write about parts of the Mass until Christmas. Little did I know that by Christmas I'd only be about halfway through... Me and my big mouth!

Anyway, I'm going to keep plugging away at that. We'll see how it goes.

It all puts me in mind of a poem...
Digging

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney
Back to the Creed tomorrow...

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