Poet’s Corner: North Coast poet Tess Taylor writes about her time on the farm

There is a lot that goes unsaid in the fields thriving around us. When you live in a booming agricultural area like Sonoma County, you see the terraced hillsides, the orchards, the new houses being built.

You can fill your glass to the brim with all that is beautiful and plentiful around us, but it’s easy to forget who wakes at dawn in the cool, morning fog, to prune the vines or pick the grapes. Who is carefully guiding the cement into the wooden forms in order to build a foundation we can build upon.

“Epilogue” by Tess Taylor is the last in a series of poems found in her book, “Work and Days,” which records her time working on a farm. In this poem, she pays tribute to the people whose hands get dirty, whose muscles ache from raising roof beams and driving in nail after nail. It celebrates how the world we live in “is a made thing.” How only together we can remove the stones that prevent us from planting the fields of our lives. How only together we can thrive.



By Tess Taylor

Hands, everywhere, now tending

farms large or small, plots well or poorer.

Tracts I’ll never see, hands pulling

onions to market, washing greens in clean water.

Loading avocados.

Squatting, unpacking.

Breaking to eat some lunch from home.

Dozing under a tree in the calm hour.

May your bodies stay fed and your birds sing.

May our bodies stay fed and our birds sing.

I once met a man from Jalisco home again

after 10 years working the garlic in Gilroy.

I once watched men hammer a stage set for a play;

actor-lovers spoke from plywood perches.

Their world is a made thing. The world is a made thing.

May those who are hungry be fed.

May those who have food also hunger for justice.

We bow to the work:

same & not same - our scattered arts -

removing, removing the stones from our soil.


Tess Taylor will read with Ada Limon and Dean Rader from 2-4 p.m. today at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle is Sonoma County’s 2016 poet laureate.

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