The farmer stood on the side of this hill
Lord knows how many years ago,
Before anyone ever heard of Normandy
Or Iwo Jima or the Bridge Too Far.
The man scratched his whiskery chin,
Brushed a fly from the brim of his hat,
And decided the cattle needed a pond.
He ambushed the creek and raised a dam,
Built a brick chimney that led to a heavy stone pipe
Under the embankment, an overflow so the bravest
Waters stood a chance at escape.
Then he waited for rain.
For years the deer and cattle drank here,
The frogs and songbirds and waterbugs came
And rested on the banks like tourists
In the sun on summer vacation.
But late one night, when no one was watching,
The seeds on the dam broke open.
Carefully upward they crept.
Seedlings stretched tall like waking children.
Before the farmer knew it, they were trees
With deep roots, fingers in the earth
That wrapped around the stone drainpipe
Like a soldier grips a gun.
One night, a storm descended.
The bending trees on the dam grew bold,
And squeezed till the pipe burst.
The creek rejoiced and ran free.
In the morning the cattle complained.
The frogs and birds and waterbugs
Packed their things and left.
Catfish cooked in the mud.
The elder waters gurgled their thanks
To the trees on the dam, then nodded
And ran home eventually to the sea,
Where they wanted to go all along.
The farmer, old now, woke to discover
His work undone. “Hmm,” was all he said.
The cows looked away to allow him his dignity.
When it rains now, the pond fills partway
Then drains away overnight,
Young waters pausing to honor their forbears,
Who bought their freedom.
But the birds and the frogs and the fish and I
Have been meeting in secret.
The creek doesn’t know it yet,
But the old trees are thirsty.
There’s no deep meaning in this one, so don’t bother looking. There’s an old dry pond at the Warren, and whenever I sit in the woods I dream of repairing the dam and stocking the pond with catfish.
Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.