Jayber’s Poem, Inspired by Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow

To those about to deconstruct or analyze

Their wisp of life on earth:

Take heed,

Lest ye interpret your self

As something understandable.

To you I say:

What do you make

Of love

That floats, unspoken

That settles between

Old friends

That stands at the threshold,

But never takes a chair?

Have you met the irony

Of a death bed

In a living room?

See how souls are carried away,

How the grain has turned silver,

Heads speckled by the sun:

Squeamish boys

Now dignified men—

Their laughing eyes




They drop dollars on the tobacco box

On their way

To the grave:

‘A clean cut,’ they say

To the Death Barber.

Speak, if you have understanding:

Is the river youthful,

Or is it an ‘other,’

An old man like me?

Is the water new,

Or does it recall

What was borrowed in the floods?

If the water is old,

Does it carry inside it

The memory of the ground it bore away

To make room for its younger self?

For I remember what I have borne away,

And that makes me think

That there can only be

The one river.

Look into my face,

At the husk

That holds me together.

Can you measure a life

In lines and freckles?

Do my eyes still tell the




Of a lamb without sight

Who wandered in the valley

Til he collapsed in the rain

And had to be carried

The rest of the way


I’ve felt Love,

And it’s carried me to the





I do dishonor to this Beauty,

For I fail to love it as I would

And it breaks me.

And yet I’d not abandon this post

For anything,

For the brokenness of my own heart

Is a small price to pay

That Love might go on in this world.

Analyze my life, if you can—

Take my years in your hands

And clench;

But know that I’ve already

Sought understanding

Of myself,

And that I know this man less


At the end of the road.

My life has been Love.

And Loneliness.

I hope to be around

When I die.

To lie still,

To become one more piece of furniture

That folk can say,

‘Oh, that was lost in the flood.’

But I won’t be lost,

Just buried

‘Neath the ripples of time;

And when the waters still, maybe you’ll see me,

Drifting by in the new old river

Which will carry me

To the edge of the world,

Where Love lives.

What do you make of my life?

What do you make

Of yours?

Gia Mesz is a Lindenwood senior, a storywriter, and a constant daydreamer, pursuing a Creative Writing degree and a certificate in Intercultural Fluency. Her writing voice is tender and playful, appealing to the imagination and speaking purposively to the childlike soul within every reader. (Don’t tell anyone, but she’s also a mermaid.)

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