Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“Our Heritage,” a landmark poem by Erwin A. Thompson

Persimmon, sasafrass, and ash
Reclaim the land that once was theirs.
"Submarginal", the experts say.
Once, hillside plows were used to turn
The fertile ground.

It nurtured, and produced the crops,
Sustained, with money crops, and food
The pioneers.

They didn't have a guarantee of annual wage.
Their maps, drawn out with pointed sticks
In sand, or smoothed out dirt.

The farmers now—
A different breed,
No time to milk a cow!

The streets of older towns,
The Indian trails, and wagon roads,
Grown up with old time mansions
On their winding path.

Us younger fellers ask:
"What makes this street so crooked?"
"Well, you see—Old Ab Prentiss' barn stood there.
Couldn't put a street through a man's barn!"

The wharves where river boats tied up are gone.
The River, still a master highway, carries on.
No more, the steamboat, fired with coal or wood,
The safety valve tied down.

The diesel tug chugs on,
They move
The coal, the wheat, the oil—
The lifeblood of our nation!

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