Mennonite Poetry Home | Elmer Wiens



Heaven's Complex Roots

The prism of the galaxy casts heaven's grace
selectively onto Earth: the Spirit of Justice departed,
the Europeans arrived and the native nations'
golden age ended, streams and rivers stripped
of salmon, hunting grounds logged and defaced,
the naked earth exposed to the sun and winds
ploughed and cultivated by hungry, cold Mennonite
farmers who crossed the Rockies like starlings
to take up Eckert's offer of virgin lake-bottom land,
obsessed with their leaders' vision of a pious, Russian
Mennonite colony between the mountain and the river,
preaching their evangelical, Anabaptist message of peace.

As Yarrow's population grew, the public school principal
and his helpers anglicized young minds — speak English,
God save the King, the British Empire, scientific theories
of evolution, citizenship, and democratic government —
enthusiasms three-hundred and fifty years of sequestration
countered with German and Bible schools and
a church-sponsored, religious High School, passive
conscientious resistance and responsible communal activism.

Minds inured to the old faith, lads hardened to labour
departed for European battle grounds and bivouacs
where English girls run mad, and then returned
to raise red raspberries and strawberries instead
of fields of poppies and graves, and to play softball,
taking on all comers for Yarrow's champion teams.

Blessed are they graced by the universe's complex roots.

© Elmer Wiens




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