Furrowed as the heaviest brow yet plain
As our forgetfulness, they are unmoved
By change the way all origins lie stilled
By what they start. Long genealogies
Of fields rest in courthouse records
But lack what came before, generations
Nameless and permanent as need.

Rain, and the broadest reaches go under;
Drought, and they are dust. But always these remain.
To die down to stubble, to disappear,
Then rise from dark into the leaf-long change
Of new life: this carries more than reason
Gathers in its mirrors, as being fertile
After freezing cold or swallowing flood
Bears more than powers know to plant.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 5, on page 38
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