Ana Raven’s Farm

After years as wilderness, settlers came
Bringing pig fodder, shovel, ax and saw.
They cleared an opening, built a home,
A shed, cistern, a well around which
A red oak wrapped itself in time
And thrust its tap root down.

Evenings they sat by the fire, were glad,
Grew old, departed rising from the earth
Having spread the work of their lives:
Clover, grass, grape, plum; after years
I came upon their place, walking
Through an opening so emblematic
Of a poet’s disease feeling rise in me
From causes natural; I thought . . ..

Nothing makes us flare up like talk
Of hope, the talk of peonies and yellow
Daffodils alive in spring–their yearly
Bonding with this place of living,
The place of leaving, flowery breath rising
In song breaking into spring-time shining.

I knew then the old ones had not worn
Themselves out against the earth,
That history and death might come for others
Who might walk here to feel the old ones
Rise in them come back to share their bond,
Inhabit, rebuild, to shed a life, to live
In many centuries at once, fearless to live
Another day to live as second sense permits.

Daniel James Sundahl is Emeritus Professor in English and American Studies at Hillsdale College where he taught for thirty-three years.