Roots

By John Piller John Piller

Mendota, Illinois

It's easy to believe you can go back
Whenever you desire, jump in the car
And drive, arrive at dusk—the hour

You recall most vividly—and walk
Among the buildings spread across the farm,
Out toward the pastures, woods, and fields.

There is music in the leaves, in the dense
Columns of green corn. The wind lays down
The tune. You can play it, too, simply

By walking with eyes closed, arms
Stretched out, lightly striking the stalks.
Who wouldn't desire, like the children

Lost in so many similar fields,
To sit down on the turned earth and drift
Away on the rhythms of his own

First possible death? Rescuing
Voices come closer, veer off. Flashlight beams
Strobe over your head. You do not care.

Each building you remember—hen house,
Sheep shed, corn crib, barn—caved in upon itself,
The walls and roofs collapsing with a final

Percussive clap, since you last walked those fields.
No one you will ever know works that land now.
It is as green as Eden. Life rises in the roots, in the leaves.

Source: Poetry (September 1998).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the September 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

September 1998

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Time & Brevity, Living, Social Commentaries, Landscapes & Pastorals, Youth

Poetic Terms Imagery, Elegy, Pastoral

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