Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The year before last a late frost
Blackened the apple blossoms and the crop
Was lost. Last year the trees
Made up the loss, so much fruit the
Branches broke from the weight.
Yesterday I cut the limbs, hanging
Half broken from the trunk, and this evening
I piled them up
To burn.

Finally, with chores somewhat done,
I sat down to watch the fire
And bid the various troubles depart,
Pleasured in a moment alone, with
Untroubled thought.

And that was of Pete.

In the story my dad told, my great grandmother
Lucy (who smoked a pipe) told him, when he took
Their horses to hide in the knobs, to give the horses up
If he was found out. To this Pete was said to reply,
“They’ll get them horses when Pete’s dead.”
Was this true? And was it said out of loyalty to
The woman who’d
Taken, whether in rescue or bondage, his
Birth mother’s place? Or was it just a tale,
Made up of things the teller wanted told?

He was 26 then.

The historians are no help. One says that
He didn’t know how the earth was made, or how human life began.
One says his soul was saved, another denies it.
One says he would have known as little about
The world as an animal knows.

I sense him standing just outside the present flame,
As sleek and strong as a painter (as panthers hereabouts are
Called) ~ his thought, since I must invent it,
Is poised with animal elegance. Histories, mythologies,
Mean nothing to him. The pads of his feet press
Into the spring soil exactly as mine do, pulling the furrow
Ridge in over rows
of onions, potatoes, peas.
The same chorus of frogs chimes in the bottoms, the sweet
Wild plum casts its love into the breeze, and the thin
Peal of the meadow-lark gives way to twilight,
And fire of apple wood, burning the past
Which was too much, too little
Counted year by year; but grand, exquisite beyond
Telling, in the endless time of planting
And harvest.


Cathy said...

Just beautiful, Dan.

Dan Dutton said...

I'm really boggled myself how this conglomeration of poems won't let go. I don't think of writing anything else, just the next image in the sequence. I wonder how long it will turn out to be! (I haven't even introduced two of the 4 main characters yet!)

Mary Beth said...

Well Done! You weave spell of connection with the earth, spirits in trees, and reverse hauntings with such ease! You never fail to amaze and delight!

I've just been told some stories... there was a man whose parents selected to stay with our family after the war. He too selected to stay his entire life with the family. Hard to comprend. If they'll help, I'll tell them to you when you've got a spare moment.

Dan Dutton said...

Thanks! Of course, MB. ~ every little bit helps!