Sometimes a poem, in a soft yet urgent voice, speaks to us, and keeps speaking long after the words are uttered. This is certainly true for the many of the selections featured in the PBS Series, The United States of Poetry (2004), a creation of Bob Holman and directed by Mark Pellington. A sampling of them are featured on youtube, including one of my favorites “Morels” by Nashville poet Dan Powers. The text of this poem is available in Google books.
Two years ago my friend Vantrease
said farming would not pay his bills.
He sold his milk cows and leased
the Sears catalog store in town.
Blackberry vines and sumac
crowd his unkempt pastures and the fences sag.
Last week at church, he held out his hands
soft and white for us to see and said,
“A farm is like the strength in a man’s hands.
You try hard to keep it, and you lose it.”
In the trillium beneath the hickory grove
on our ridge, my son and I find a few morels
and drop them into a brown paper bag.
Our small talk worn thin, we walk back toward the house
through the dew-wet pasture without speaking.
Here, miles from town, without his friends to see,
he reaches across our silent striding
and grasps my hand with all the strength of his ten years.
Each of us holds on.