Poem: Acquiring Land

Poem from Acquiring Land by Jane Rohrer. Dreamseeker Poetry Series #17, Cascadia Publishing, 2020.

Sixty years ago, my fiancé's parents
Were relieved he would marry a girl
Whose father owned a thousand acres.
They had their standards.
I see the Shenandoah now
Like a World War II movie, sepia toned,
And the river flows by the house someone owns.

The day came, on the toy farm in Lancaster County,
When I stepped out of my shoes
Stuck in the mud in a cornfield
Screaming the known world must be bigger than this,
And went on the road, collecting places.
Leaving after leaving, the only sure thing we do
But we do not know it.

My mind is filled today
With a whiff of Lisbon in the rain
And the marina where the white ship docked.
I had pitched past Gibraltar
All night in my berth
And thrown up my gorgonzola risotto,
But I would pitch and rock again tomorrow
Just to get to the white city
That whispersSpainI am not Spain.

Last year I bought all the land along the Danube
Slipping into Budapest at dusk
As the lace curtains stirred gently
In the upper windows of the old Geller hotel.
At the edge of earshot, I swear, voices of the dead

Float from Hero Square, flat, quiet and bullet-pocked,
Alive now in literature and the stricken whispers of the people.
Go all the way to the top of the city
In the yellow of October and listen
To the unrecovered, barely subdued,
Eternally sad rumble of the past threatening.

One day I was driven to acquire real estate
In the cool and cruel tomb of Ramses Six
There by the jackal performing his sacred rites
There by the hot sands of Luxor
That baked from my bones
Separation, darkness and the bent to putrefy in my own epoch.

I am permanently on the move like everyone else.
Wind blows my hair but I dare not stop.
I need more and more addresses.
On a cold day in Paradise I must have some place to go.

About the Author

Jane Rohrer

Jane Rohrer, nee Turner, was born in Broadway, Virginia in 1928. She spent four years at Eastern Mennonite High School and then attended Eastern Mennonite University (then College), where she met her husband Warren Rohrer. Together, the Rohrers embarked on an adventure exploring the world of the arts, first through Warren's career as a painter, and later through Jane's work as a poet. As an adult, Jane studied at Temple University and The University of the Arts in Philadelphia under Stephen Berg. Berg published many of Jane's poems in The American Poetry Review. She is the author of two poetry collections, Life After Death and Acquiring Land.