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On Learning in New Mexico that Seamus Heaney Died, a poem by Norbert Krapf

On Learning in New Mexico that Seamus Heaney Died
             by Norbert Krapf

A poet who dug in the earth
with his father to plant potatoes
and bring them later to light

has died. His poems too dig down
into bog and peat and past and present
and bring up the smell of many layers

of lives lived in a place and a language
that rose up in him and always stayed
connected to his native place. His words

live on like roots of history going down
and coming back up conducting
the water pooled below the surface

he walked in a steady rhythm like
a creature whose legs and lungs
are strong from having worked

and written what he discovered
he knew because the pen in his
hand never stopped digging.

This son could handle a pen
the way his father did a spade,
with an elemental art that revealed

its quality by how deep he dug
in ways that never stopped being
new no matter how old they were

Norbert Krapf, a former Indiana Poet Laureate, has published thirteen collections, the latest of which are The Return of Sunshine, about his Columbian-German-American grandson, five, and Indiana Hill Country Poems. In 2021 his prose book, Homecomings: A Writer's Memoir, will be published.