Table Grace: For the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

April is National Poetry Month. Poet Dan Corrie shared this poem with Rural and Progressive.

Table Grace: For the Good, the True and the Beautiful

Seed of the three is
the True – world itself’s
soon-entangling particulars,

like the fence-line lost
in thickets of blackberries
favored by a phoebe.

From that first, seeds buried
in the mind might

root deeper, branch higher –

single-double direction
of the Good, of the Beautiful

of the merely here

harvested by my noticing.

Plum’s restorative taste
rounding around seed

might guide us to be
a health of seeds

opening, rising,
branching into falling

to seeds to deeds to seeds –

from felt meaninglessness
to meaning’s feeling.

Let each of our choices
root and rise, like the giving
of pears for the table
and mulberries for the waxwings.

Let our living
be ownerless fields
grown thick with our thanks.

–by Daniel Corrie, originally published in the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review

Dan Corrie

Dan Corrie birding at the coast

This poem emerged from my wife’s and my adventures in exploring relocalization in rural South Georgia.

Six years ago, we moved from living in Midtown Atlanta to settle on my wife’s inherited family farm in Tift County, an hour and a half north of Florida.  One of our key concerns about the move was whether we’d be able to eat as we’d grown accustomed with all the choices available in Atlanta, including buying from local farms we had toured where we’d met and even become friends with some of the farmers and knew they didn’t use pesticides.

A key persuasive factor was that a member of the board of Georgia Organics lived in Tifton.  We telephoned her, and she told us of her local volunteer efforts devoted to nurturing a true farmers market, as opposed to what so many such markets have been: a cross between a flea market and an outlet for venders to resell produce grown nowhere near and with no assurance of how it was grown.

After we moved down to the farm, we enjoyed joining our new friend in devoting time to the farmers market.  In that process, the three of us also organized the first South Georgia Growing Local and Sustainable conference, which attracted about 60 people to the Tifton event.  The conference has gone on to be held in various parts of South Georgia, organized by other friends who care about healthy, locally raised food, with the events attracting from one to two hundred participants.  And Tifton’s farmers market has grown, with other friends in the community emerging to run it and to shape it and improve what our group has incorporated as the Wiregrass Farmers Market. The market has come to be headquartered at the beautiful Georgia Museum of Agriculture in partnership with the University of Georgia.  The market has come to be a place where people come not only to buy food but to run into friends and enjoy visiting with each other.

Around our inherited house, my wife planted a garden, as well as sixty-some edible trees and bushes.  Some of our Tifton friends began a slow food club, in which different couples or individuals will host a pot-luck at their home and everyone attending puts together dishes with local ingredients.  They might grow some of the ingredients themselves, buy from the farmers market, or buy or trade or simply be given ingredients from other friends and neighbors.

In my poem, I refer to three values highly prized by Plato: the good, the true and the beautiful.  While Plato thought in philosophical terms of eternal, perfect forms, my poem reflects my own personal bias for the true in terms of the real, at-hand world where the particulars matter, such as which farmer raised what we eat and how much carbon went into transporting our food during our time of global climate change.  When circles of people find fun in working together while paying attention to nature’s ways, the good and the beautiful surely can follow.

About Katherine Helms Cummings

During the day I am a social and environmental activist whose professional work has been in the nonprofit world for the last 12 years. Most nights and weekends I am an artisan making accessories with upcycled cashmere and woven textiles. My handmade items are available at The Sassy Gal http://thesassygal.org
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