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The Land Owner

Text of Poem

She moved into the threadbare house
when I first knew her, a new neighbor
with her spirit deeply lined but muscle tough
after a lifetime of hard labor.

After years of moving around
from farm to worn-out farm and none her own
she learned to transplant a red geranium
to make bread from stone

With all my chores to do I went to the door and spoke
welcomed them to the house, said I was their neighbor
they looked like folk ready to settle down
after travelling a lifetime of hard labor.

I hardly knew the Missus was sick, not until she died
but she was one of the brave kind, the first day she spent
planting red geraniums out in her piece of yard
said she brought them with her everywhere she went.

Now she is at rest with her plain hands folded
free from small disasters of the bare unfriendly years
now she owns a plot of ground where she can stay forever
for her the debt-clouded sky suddenly clears

Now at least she has a home all to herself
let the wind blow softly, softly over the grass
whispering to the larkspur and one stubborn rose
see the red geraniums all you who pass

You can say this about her and this is the truth:
she worked hard at living—it was easy to die—
to earn a place for her to rest, as we all hope to do,
with her face turned up to the sky.

First Line
She moved into the threadbare house
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Planting Red Geraniums: Discovered Poems of James Hearst. Final Thursday Press, 2017. 16.
Complete Poems
Hearst Collections
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Permission to reproduce work from the James Hearst Papers has been granted by the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries.

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