When I work outdoors all day, every day, as I do now, in the fall, getting ready for winter, tearing up the garden, digging potatoes, gathering the squash, cutting firewood, making kindling, repairing bridges over the brook, clearing trails in the woods, doing the last of the fall mowing, pruning apple trees, taking down the screens, putting up the storm windows, banking the house—all these things, as preparation for the coming cold . . .
when I am every day all day all body and no mind, when I am physically, wholly and completely, in this world with the birds, the deer, the sky, the wind, the trees . . .
when day after day I think of nothing but what the next chore is, when I go from clearing woods roads, to sharpening a chain saw, to changing the oil in a mower, to stacking wood, when I am all body and no mind . . .
when I am only here and now and nowhere else—then, and only then, do I see the crippling power of mind, the curse of thought, and I pause and wonder why I so seldom find this shining moment in the now.
—David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet © Copper Canyon Press
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B sent this poem to me way back in the fall of 2005. He heard it on his drive to work one morning and thought I’d love it as much as he does. I do! I printed it out and tacked it to the bulletin board next to my desk. I read it every now and then to settle myself a bit.
You can listen to Garrison Keillor read this poem over at “The Writer’s Almanac” here.