Dig to plant, set seed
of beans and marigold—bear water; be strong to hoe,
but delicate to stir the mold—bear water.
Know you’re sowing hungers
in your children when you plant; know a thing
that’s bought with sweat is never sold—bear water.
Plant black-eyed Susan seed
in spring, set peony roots in fall; call what you nourish
through the gladdened eye your soul—bear water.
Learn reverence, kneel
to mattock-out the running root of weeds; pursue the plunging
thistle in its endless hole—bear water.
The bee bears pollen
to the peony pried open by the ant; rough clods
and hickory handles help you learn your role—bear water.
The best work you can do
will bring your forehead near the earth, though standing strong
and straight may be your sought-for goal—bear water.
WILLIAM DENNIS encountered ghazal on a trip to Delhi, and has been fascinated by the form, its atmosphere and its history for years. His work has appeared previously on The Ghazal Page and in Contemporary Ghazals, R. W. Watkins, editor. He has a two books of ghazal, available at Amazon in electronic format: Better Than Truth—Not Quite Translations, after Ghalib and Foreign Language—Exploring the Ghazal in English.