Poem: Out of the Land

He didn’t own that land.
For all his life after the war
he paid someone to let him
keep his cows there, but he
treated it like his own.

He built a camp house, 
a barn, and a small cover
for the tractor out there. 
He planted hay for the cows,
of course, but nothing stopped
him from growing potatoes,
tomatoes, onions, peppers,
snap peas, and corn.

He also engaged in an
interminable and fruitless
battle against beaver dams,
trying to make the bottom land
usable for more than mudding
in a chopped up Volkswagen.

Many years the cows didn’t
earn enough to pay the lease,
but he was never going to
give them up. He would never
let go of the frantic fence repairs,
hooping and hollering for feed time,
and walking in solitude under
tired oaks trying to forget the
pressure of permanent
and paralysing memories.