Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Poem: No Sweet Land

Friday Poem: This poem is one I wrote long ago, maybe in the 1980s, during a really dry summer in central Illinois. People used to joke that the dust clouds blowing overhead were the fields of Kansas and Missouri, turned to dust by the everlasting sun that summer. The poem was originally called No Sweet Land and later I had it published as Drought. 

No Sweet Land

Sarah says

see my little girl
she can read a book

make change for a twenty
tell you what star is what

she doesn't need
school love dolls

she knows winter is hard
beds are soft

grow on vines

she knows
what's useless

the soft spade
the easy turn

maybe in Mississippi

the soil is sweet
ready for asparagus

or juicy fruit
but not here

here the ground is clay
more clay than dirt

here, you see a dog
you know he's leaving


The photograph is by the great Dorothea Lange.  You can read about it at the Library of Congress site devoted to photos of the Great Depression.  Just click here: Migrant Mother.

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