The James Hearst Digital Archive

Home » Poetry » Ownership


Text of Poem

Old neighbors of my people
sleep beneath this knoll
who hungered in their bones
for earth the owner owns,
the ample field plowed over
is their warm bedcover.

The church steeple is down
and vines grow up again,
worship has moved to town
and left this plot to men,
markers along the fence
make no more pretense
to identify the claims
asserted once by names.
Neat in stacks are pressed
the crumbling half-blind stones,
since by land possessed
no longer need old bones
be honored row by row.
The farmer with his plow
unroofs each sunken mound
as if folk lying there
had asked for rain and air.
Indentured to the ground
they worked so hard to keep
when underneath their boots,
they serve now in their sleep.
There through oats and clover
the winds go nosing over
boundaries the birds neglect,
where grasses genuflect
the owners reap their faith
in a harvest bones bequeath,
and chosen by the roots
they make their presence seen
in the meadow’s darker green.

First Line
Old neighbors of my people
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Discourse: A Review of Liberal Arts 7 (Spring 1964) 148.
Complete Poems
Hearst Collections
Word Count
Poetic Form
Twitter Quote
The farmer with his plow / unroofs each sunken mound