‘This is what you shall do…’

Planting rudbeckia this afternoon, my shovel hits something hard in the sandy soil. I scrape and unearth a brick and then several pieces, all in surprisingly good shape. How useful, I think.

I dig harder, wondering, who buries bricks? and then discover a drill bit, too.

With my fingers, I unearth that and ponder. I know a carpenter who worked here a number of years ago, and I wonder if the tool is his.

For a moment, my eyes sweep the perennials in the front yard — forsythia and roses and lilies and peonies — and wonder what else lies buried in all that soil.

I plant the rudbeckia, stack the bricks in the barn, and hide the drill bit in a secret place.

Oh, sweet July and all your forty shades of green. Keep on surprising me.

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families…”

— Walt Whitman

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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