Driftless Terroir: Fall Passage

by Michael Brandt

From everywhere you seem to come
draping long, black ribbons across the sky.
For whom do you mourn?
Fallen comrades left behind
or perhaps, those yet to fall
before your perilous journey’s end?

No. Small deaths spell no tragedy
among your legions.
Tomorrow you will rise from the great marsh
as you have always risen,
turning your backs to the north wind,
closing ranks, stretching headlong
into what life there is to live,
leaving naught to pity
but the sad Earth below.

Poisoned, battered, vandalized,
her suffering mocks all our history
and she would cry out in protest
had she a voice of her own.
It is left to us to be that voice.

Only, I have not your resolute confidence.
My tears and anger reduce me
to a clanging alarm, an embittered combatant.
The power to inspire, to sustain
lies not in my words but
upon your wings.

So, fly swiftly,
you who are at once
my god and my children,
fly bravely,
and carry your message
beyond every horizon —
that dawn will come
and a new day is enough.

Michael Brandt’s musings have appeared sporadically across a spectrum of Midwestern news and special interest publications. He is privileged to share a ridge top in Arena with his wife, Janet, and their large hound Thule.

Driftless Terroir (ter-WAHR) is a series featuring guest voices celebrating the intersection of land and culture — the essence of life in the Driftless Area — with topics including art and architecture, farming and gardening, cooking and eating, fermenting and drinking, and more. To contribute to Driftless Terroir, e-mail info@voiceoftherivervalley.com.