I Raise My Hand for Shade

Marilee Swirczek

From my father’s grave atop the hill

I turn a slow circle: west

to neat Amish farms filled

fence to fence with corn—beyond them

a line of ancient ginkgoes marks

the Ohio border; south

to the Shenango’s slow summer current—

banks shrouded with purple elderberries,

dark fruit round as gunshot; east

to hills rolling green and green

toward the Alleghenies; then north

to the still water of Pymatuning

and Erie’s old canals.



My father lifted me to his shoulders

on this spot near his mother’s grave,

turned a slow circle west to east, said

long ago a rich man owned all this,

as far as the eye can see; now I

raise my hand for shade and squint

against the sun, try to see what my father

saw, wish I had asked him why

a man would need so much space.