Susquehanna

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This scene from 2013 is in the town of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, is the most idyllic I have ever seen.  “I want to live here,” I whispered to myself again and again as I looked over the tall corn toward the farmhouse and barn.  “This is where I want to be.”  Have you had this experience of seeing your dream home, your dream town, and sighing loudly but forlornly with love and satisfaction? Boy did I fall hard for this place.  I didn’t want to leave.  But my wife and children were in Utah; my parents and several siblings were in Utah; my job (and my income) was in Utah.  So I went back to Utah, not unhappily, but leaving a part of me behind in Amish country.  My poem Susquehanna braids a dialogue between intimate partners with a description of place.  Do you sympathize with or relate to one person over the other?  Or are they both unrealistic, even extreme?  Do you have the courage to pursue your dreams in spite of opposing voices?  (I hope I do, but I’m not sure.)

SUSQUEHANNA

I could live here,

he dreamed,
gazing
from a ridge-top
road

And what would you do
Mr. Lawyer? It would
ruin the place—and you—to dive
into their divorces

at the far-off
river meandering
in graceful curves

and mangled hands
and rat poisoned livestock.

Still, I could
live here: right there:
on that farm:
see
the red barn, tilting?

where the feet
of mountains meet,
a reflecting ribbon,
shining silver
beneath a bright
sky,

I could right it,
help it stand straight
again.

You and whose budget?
Not yours, surely,
and not mine!
And what would you do
with a farm, anyway?

flanked in leafy
darkening green

You couldn’t fix
a door knob
let alone
a bailing wagon.

transforming
to iridescent gold
under the alchemy

You don’t know your rye
from your barley or oats
or triticale wheat.
You,
a farmer!

of the slowly setting
sun.

I could live here:
me: right here.

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2 thoughts on “Susquehanna

  1. Becky

    How come we have the discouraging voice of reality always keeping us from our dreams? I remember visiting Amish country with two of my friends several years ago and having the same feelings you describe so clearly. I still believe I would have made a terrific farmer, but I didn’t have it in me to give up my “real life”.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Roger Baker-Utah Post author

      I have been struggling to think of answer to your question. After four days, I still don’t have one. I think that certain sensory experiences (sights, sounds, smells) trigger in us happy memories, memories of simpler, happier times. Some experiences give us a sense of the idyllic, the pain-free. Knowing which dreams are really dreams and which are fantasy fluff can be a challenging exercise in discernment. Would we be happy, or happier, as farmers, writers, folk singers, marine biologists? It is hard to know. Right now I know that I am not those things, and that perhaps I should focus my efforts on finding happiness, even bliss, in the circumstances in which I find myself. I know. It is difficult. Maybe it can’t be done. But I can be better for trying. Thanks, Becky, for your thought-provoking comment and question.

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