The Past

by Max Reif

The past is an interest-bearing investment,
an estate enclosing more territory each day,
a delta always creating land.

Now, in my 60s,
I'm a great landowner,
a don unable to survey
all my holdings at once,
even from the highest hill.

To do so, I have to take
to the winding back roads.
Whole years I'd forgotten
come into view.
Everything is growing,
rooted in soil.
I didn't know the past blossomed
with such passionate, poignant flowers
or yielded such succulent fruit.

Blossoms have faces and speak.
Resurrected old homes straddle valleys.
Memories graze on hillsides.
I return from such excursions knowing
there are still more such loops. How
did the tiny sharecropper's yard
I knew as a young man
ever accrue to this? What Hand
has watered the once-arid precincts
and made them fertile?

I wonder, hearing people say,
“the past is dead”, when I find it so alive,
nearly as unknown, at times,
as what has not yet been dreamed,
and though I do not live in the past,
it is the foundation upon which I stand.


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