I construct with words …

There is an interesting juxtaposition in my home this week. As I read a proof of my manuscript, making final changes before its imminent publication, my kitchen transforms from the empty canvas it recently became to one completely new. Both are signs of creation and yet the diversity of the creations strike me.

More than once this week I have been reassured that I have chosen the right profession. The construction world is not for me. This reflection on career choice reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s poem, Digging first published in Death of a Naturalist in 1966.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; 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 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, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, 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.



One thought on I construct with words …

  1. What a wonderful affirmation of the power of words from a Nobel Prize Winner!
    And you are wielding some of your own power with “your pen.”

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