deep roots

Amish family


This is a long and often tragic story, which I will summarize: My maternal grandfather was raised Amish. He never joined the church as an adult, but instead married my Mennonite grandmother. They had six children , but died within two years of each other when the children were little. My mother was raised Methodist, but became a Catholic after she married my Irish Catholic father.  When I was in my fifties, I discovered I had a small army of Amish second cousins.

Here’s a poem I wrote about that:


An Only Child on the Family Tree


It’s a European Mountain Ash.

Sometimes called a Rowan tree, it likes

light, peaty soil.

Its pale brown wood, tough and strong,

makes tool handles, cart wheels.

The juice of its berries

heals the bowels.

Its magical powers

revered by Druids.

This one came from Switzerland, though.

Sprouted from an Amish seed

rooted in Pennsylvania.


The trunk set deep aggressive roots

in Leacock township, close to Paradise.

Thickened by weather and loamy earth,

the tough trunk sent out

long branches, branching out from each other

with dozens of offspring from each marriage.

Amazing in May

with its spray of white flowers.


People with no electricity,

terse and clannish,

black pants flapping on the clotheslines.

Women with bare feet like cudgels,

walking behind the plough.

Well tended buggies

drawn by dashing horses,

mahogany hides gleaming

along the narrow roads.


One old twig

growing on an orphaned branch

of a larger branch

broken off by a long ago storm,

I’m looking for a way

for the tree to take me back.



ancient oak


<a href=””>Roots</a&gt;


3 thoughts on “deep roots

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s