Poetry for Tax Day

shoreline2How to explain the mysterious juxtaposition of feelings that accompany taxes? On one hand, blast, giving money to the government. On the other hand, satisfaction, helping build roads, libraries etc., and assisting others less fortunate.

Today, to celebrate the spring-ish weather, we went for a walk around the block. In our case, that means down to the shore of Prince William Sound and then around a point, up through an estuary into the woods and back to our home. The sky and the sea don’t know that it’s tax day. Perhaps they know that time passes. There’s not much poetry dedicated to paying taxes (and most that is has such language as I’d prefer not to introduce here), but there is plenty of poetry about industry and the cycle of such. One of my favorites is below. Happy Tax Day.

Ox Cart Man

by Donald Hall

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
counting the seed, counting
the cellar’s portion out,
and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather
tanned from deerhide,
and vinegar in a barrel
hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.

He walks by his ox’s head, ten days
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,
and the bag that carried potatoes,
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose
feathers, yarn.

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year’s coin for salt and taxes,

and at home by fire’s light in November cold
stitches new harness
for next year’s ox in the barn,
and carves the yoke, and saws planks
building the cart again.

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