Laws of the Land
This 1981 collection has a meditative, memoir-like quality that is soothing and compelling, rich and austere. Baker is adept at capturing the placeless place, the timeless time, as in such poems as “Small Confession by the River: A Love Poem,” “Front Porch,” or “Return to the Pond.” The landscape, history, family—past and present—all cast light and reflect off each other under Baker’s elegant hand.
The full text of David Baker’s Laws of the Land is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
Persimmon Trees, She Remembers, Not Far Away
Your father’s farm was lovely that October. The black barn
leaned like an animal in the sweet field, and the smell
of hay, of smoke, more like a cloud, rose from the land
you said you loved. You’d take me there often,
teach me foal and loft and fallow, though the trees,
the deeper we walked into them, were what you liked best,
their leaves lit with color, their words, you’d say,
as soft and timid as the wind. One place in particular, twenty
minutes from the house, a small patch of persimmon
trees clustered tight as a nest in the middle
of a grass clearing, was your favorite, their leaves
the first to brown and fall. You’d shake their trunks,
laughing, and collect the tiny fruits in the sagging
skin of your clothes, or pull down from their limbs
the more stubborn ones as the soft pulp of those fallen
seeped like cider into the earth beneath your feet.
Then, as we walked back to the house, you’d stop to taste
the sweet-sour kiss of persimmons on my lips, or closer in,
tell me you heard the barn moaning like the old trees
that it had been, before our own parents touched that way.
Copyright © 1981 by David Baker
David Baker is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Changeable Thunder, as well as of two critical books, Heresy and the Ideal: On Contemporary Poetry and Meter in English: A Critical Engagement. He currently serves as Professor of English at Denison University where he holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing.