The Orchard – by Mary Oliver

I have dreamed
of accomplishment.
I have fed

I have traded
nights of sleep

for a length of work.
Lo, and I have discovered
how soft bloom

turns to green fruit,
which turns to sweet fruit.
Lo, and I have discovered

all winds blow cold
at last,
and the leaves,

so pretty, so many,
in the great, black

packet of time,
in the great, black
packet of ambition,

and the ripeness
of the apple
is its downfall.



Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted.

Franz Kafka

[image source]


The Mower by Georges Seurat

There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.

Mowing, by Robert Frost

Donald Barthelme’s “The School”

...via Keen Public Library on Flickr...

…image from the Keen Public Library

Well, we had all these children out planting trees, see, because we figured that … that was part of their education, to see how, you know, the root systems … and also the sense of responsibility, taking care of things, being individually responsible. You know what I mean. And the trees all died. They were orange trees. I don’t know why they died, they just died. Something wrong with the soil possibly or maybe the stuff we got from the nursery wasn’t the best. We complained about it. So we’ve got thirty kids there, each kid had his or her own little tree to plant and we’ve got these thirty dead trees. All these kids looking at these little brown sticks, it was depressing.

Excerpt from one of my all-time favorite short stories, The School, by Donald Barthelme. You can read the (very, very short) full text of The School online via NPR.


Spirit Bear by  conwest_john on Flickr.

Spirit Bear by conwest_john on Flickr.


Bears are divided into brown and white, also paws, head and trunk. They have nice snouts and small eyes. They like greediness very much. They don’t want to go to school, but sleeping in the forest — that, yes, very much. When they don’t have any honey, they clutch their heads in their hands and are so sad, so sad, that I don’t know. Children who love Winnie-the-Pooh would give them anything, but a hunter walks in the forest and aims with his rifle between that pair of small eyes.

Bears, from Zbigniew Herbert’s Elegy for the Departure.

No more posts.