This Land

By Wil C. Fry, Aug. 20, 2000, 11:30

Copyright © 2000 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.

This land
Is what made us strong
Not the strength to turn a screw or lift a box
But the strength of the pioneer, who made his home with logs and rocks
With his own ax, his own hands, he chopped his logs and shaped them
With his own hands, stacked them with his own hands
And packed mud in the cracks, mud from this sandy land
And he still had the strength to help conceive a child.
His wife would plant and weed and cook and clean
It was this land, these trees, these rocks, this dirt, and that stream
Which made them strong, fit, alert, healthy, alive and lean
Then the child would grow up the same, taking more than his father’s name
Fashioning a life from this land, with his own hands

But we moved to the steel-wrapped cities, and covered the land with cement.
And we weakened, we got sick, and now we lament

It was this land that made us strong. Not my ancestors, the “forefathers”
Men you see in old photos or on canvas with paints
But I grew up here, with these birds, these snakes, these lakes
This land gave strength to MY hands, this land on which I stand
It was here that I learned to watch, to listen, and here where I ran
This land will liven your senses, clear your lungs, sharpen your ears;
It will make you lean, fit and taut.

Someday, when I have no strength to stand, I will lean on younger, stronger hands,
And look with feeble eyes out on this land
Then down at scarred and callused hands, and cry for this land

Perhaps God will hover nearby, nearly as tired as I, and look out over this land,
That He made with His hands
And He might watch me as I stand. And maybe, like me, He will look out at the grass, trees and wind
Then say, with me, “This is the best I ever did.”

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