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Lifting the Weight of a Farmer’s Lament

Paul Haeder: The house is sky burled with wheat penetrating winds, light with stove lids open, wolves in the night standing down stars, a glacial weight on their world.

For my former mother-in-law, Aggie Wasem

farmers lament

the house is sky burled with wheat
penetrating winds, light with stove lids
open, wolves in the night standing down
stars, a glacial weight on their world

she kneads bread, learned tricks
from a mother with eight girls, a child
left inside, still borne, hardpan frozen
six feet down, thaw a spring for
these women, one called to be
my mother in law

rail thin, sturdy, believing, darning and sipping
jelly wine of evening porch callings
a clan with humor, German oompah
strudel, chokecherry spreads, pies
to die for, this woman possessing a calling
to be mother, two children, hearty reunions
a hundred or more, breaking bread
bathed humor in beer

light in a religious woman is a smile
but determined in her bible
belief, her daughter, son-in-law believers
of a humanistic spirit, poetry, essence of
being unattached to flags and cross

she danced in kitchens, her faithful
spouse like her cloned companion,
both wedded to simple
vows for life, vows for raising two children
vows to provide, to steady a ship
holding dreams and hopes of
young families

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there is fire circle things in games, cards and dice
children’s games played with cookies
wine laughter a seriousness in game of gaming
yet it was holy for me, unbeliever,
somehow even dichotomies of son in law
and in laws might get smoothed over with Uno
or hearts, glue of simplicity

there is diplomacy, a fragile dance
Germans might do, even harboring strong
lines of thought, beliefs – diplomacy with hot
food, sweets, some tiny connection to Dakota
farm, the Northern Lights and fireflies
beckoning, until a new orbit warbles

first born son eaten by brain swelling
adult man, smart as a whip
reduced to child, a father now no longer
thirty but 12 years old, with two sons
fragility of life touched by virus, bacteria, fungus
she held yet another side of her strength

time moves slowly in pain but fast
with fleeting pleasures of reunion, companionship
comradery, memory of travel and memory
of my first-only born
cradled in her arms, smiles connecting
child with old woman now
her flavor now gone from the El Paso
West Texas her husband brought them to
now in retirement city Arizona
cloistered, but both still vibrant
on roads, looking to rekindle the family
lines, so many extended lines

poetry is a sound, subsonic like elephant
tears, words like harmonic wind chimes
discordant but blues, songs inside a lamentation
skipping memory, flowing thoughts, histories
reshaped by the size of regret, loss, distance
yet North Dakota farm, the land
penetrated by none of a land’s original people
this white clan of immigrants, some glued
together with a robust life
sounds of harmony family

she has passed a gossamer frame of memory
her daughter learning journeying
brother a year ago passing through light
she has passed a gossamer frame of memory
her daughter learning journeying
brother a year ago passing through light

Paul Haeder