Purdy: "The Country North of Belleville"

The Country North of Belleville
Bush land scrub land –  
     Cashel Township and Wollaston
Elzevir McClure and Dungannon
green lands of Weslemkoon Lake
where a man might have some
     opinion of what beauty
is and none deny him
          for miles —   

Yet this is the country of defeat
where Sisyphus rolls a big stone
year after year up the ancient hills
picknicking glaciers have left strewn
with centuries' rubble
          backbreaking days
          in the sun and rain
when realization seeps slow in the mind
without grandeur or self deception in
         noble struggle
of being a fool —

A country of quiescence and still distance
a lean land
     not like the fat south
with inches of black soil on
     earth's round belly —
And where the farms are
     it's as if a man stuck
both thumbs in the in the stony earth and pulled
         it apart
          to make room
enough between the trees
for a wife
     and maybe some cows and
     room for some
of the more easily kept illusions —
And where the farms have gone back
to forest
     are only soft outlines
     shadowy differences —

Old fences drift vaguely among the trees
     a pile of moss-covered stones
gathered for some ghost purpose
has lost meaning under the meaningless sky
     — they are like cities under water
and the undulating green waves of time
     are laid on them —

This is the country of our defeat
     and yet
during the fall plowing a man
might stop and stand in a brown valley of the furrows
     and shade his eyes to watch for the same
     red patch mixed with gold
     that appears on the same
     spot in the hills
     year after year
     and grow old
plowing and plowing a ten-acre field until
the convolutions run parallel with his own brain —

And this is a country where the young
          leave quickly
unwilling to know what their fathers know
or think the words their mothers do not say —

Herschel Monteagle and Faraday
lakeland rockland and hill country
a little adjacent to where the world is
a little north of where the cities are an
we may go back there
          to the country of our defeat
Wollaston Elzevir and Dungannon
and Weslemkoon lake land
where the high townships of Cashel
          McClure and Marmora once were —
But it's been a long time since
and we must enquire the way
          of strangers —



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