The Heartland - Original Poem

Background to "The Heartland"

Anyone familiar with my other hub topics knows I am very interested in history, especially American history. The American Civil War particularly provides endless sources of amazement, sorrow and powerful imagery that provokes the imagination. One of the lasting images I had from reading about the Civil War was the fact that the physical earth in Virginia was red, and the major battles were fought over this "red earth", a harbinger of the blood to be spilled there. When I finally visited Virginia and saw it was true, it made a lasting impression on me. The power of the heartland, the drive to fight for one's home and country, all was brought to understanding by the sight of that red earth.

There's another dimension going on in this poem. I find my creative juices have been flowing most freely at stressful points of my life, especially when emotional and relationship stress is high. The journey for a place to call our own, or the journey from our homes to the wide world and the longing to return are both powerful images linked to the nature of war and the stories of history. After all, each nation is constantly on a journey of discovering who they are, where they are going and what they want to become. In this way, each person's biography is their microcosm of history, a parallel to the bigger picture.

So, without further ado, I present my original poem "The Heartland":

Horse trail at Montpelier, Virginia
Horse trail at Montpelier, Virginia | Source

The Heartland

Torn heartland
I see red rivers
choked with sticky mud
gelatin clay congealing
clinging to my boots
I want desperately
to see what lies inside
Despite erosive forces
this heartland wasteland
may bear bountiful seed
Even now the rain softens
the rents of war
earth dissolves beneath gentle touch
Too much, and it gives way
only just enough can heal
I tread softly
shaky ledges hidden under
rivulets and solitary flora
Was there a fire?
No flowers in the brush
but blackened trees are strong
This place is ancient;
it will endure
without my solitary efforts
It doesn't need me any more than
I need it
But if I leave this heartland
it lingers in my thoughts
like red clay dust in the treads
of my boots, clinging
leaving a trail back
one day remembered
torn to the heartland

Notes

This poem was written on February 2, 2010. It has never been published. It is written in a freeform prosaic style.

Thanks for reading. Your comments and critiques are welcome!

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