OLD COUNTRY IN THE NEW

 

 

by  Rodney Nelson

 

 

 

I am on the top of a windmill vane or

a giant cottonwood to relate in the

cajoling easy tone of roman-fleuve how

they got here

        my kinsmen and -women and what

the seabed’s dark earth to which a plow had not

occurred did to them

                 how they acted on it

and why I am claiming to be at this height

 

 

and I could describe an early dugout home

in the mud bank of a river and weed soup

the hand seeding and reaping an arm yanked off

and the graves

        a winter of no solution

with drought to come in July a wail around

the church and still

                 enough mind thew to slog on

through grippe and heart- and bone-break and the deerflies

 

 

I could detail the way they won acreage in

the spanking North American daylight but

a roman-fleuve never reaches summa and

they are gone

        leaving me to end the story

high off the ground they took and I have come of

without any need to visit Västmanland

or Hedemark

                 this prairie of old country

in the new and the river are all I need

 


Rodney Nelson's work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and "new." See his page in the Poets & Writers directory   http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson  for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem "One Winter" won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His "Upstream in Idaho" received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011; another title, In Wait, in November 2012. Bog Light has just appeared.