Matthew Koep

(Simi Valley, CA)

Beast of Burden


Oh hearty lord of labor,
Mighty ox upon a field of stone.
Your plow cuts deeper still
For all yields to your resolve.

Steady and unbowed by weather and the day's tasks,
You bask under heavy burdens over tiny, green sprouts.
But take heart Ox for much work is still to be done, as ever
Shoulder your load, as can only be meant for a beast of burden.

Many moons pass; sun and rain take their toll upon thick hide
But always you trudge forward, head and shoulders high, unbowed.
Love in thy labor shoots skyward, rooted in the bed of stone you laid clear,
High as other fields under summer sun, yet surely something is amiss, Ox.

Others are resting now, content in their yield and bemoaning the coming winter.
But that was never your way, Ox. Seldom do you rest, always work to be done.
Often you toil in the errands meant for lesser beasts, without dignity or flagrance,
Your thought now bent upon a lonesome crop, tall and lazy in an autumn breeze.

Fruitless rows stand tall on winter's doorstep, bowing beneath the first snow.
How could this have happened, Ox, oh hearty lord of labor, whose love runs true?
The stone was thick, yet proved no match for your mighty resolve. What then?
A secret perhaps that only sun and stone can tell, but spring brings new work.

Slower are your paces now, but ever do you bear your burden, head and shoulders high,

Unbowed.

Do not judge yourself harshly, Ox.
Instead, let your example be the plow,
And unwavering labor in the crop,
For the seeds know not where they fall.

(Rochester, MN 2008)

Submitted: Monday, September 15, 2008

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