This poem is an attempt to write in the voice of my grandmother, Anna Janzen Funk. My mom says I don’t quite have it yet, but I’ll keep trying.
How shall I start?
There is an oak in Sagradowka
with many children and deep roots.
Seven hundred years old,
they say. I married Jacob in Sagradowka,
the first two were born there.
Those shaded streets, in any weather, were home
to me, my mother, her mother, her mother.
We heard the leaves, noisy in a changed wind.
Jacob went to turn the sails of the mill,
while I cooked the cabbage,
thought about revolution.
Canada, I heard. Go to Canada.
But what sense does it make to move an old tree?
You have to cut the roots. Break some eggs. Lose seventy million
(Suschen was one).
Jake came back from the mill.
We’re going to Canada, I told him.
Just take courage, I said.
It is cold today,
here on the Saskatoon River,
forty below zero.
The garden is black.
Susan is here with the children,
Frieda will come for Easter.
Jack’s oaks are up to the roofline.
Ann made borscht and brought it in a jar.
Katie is moving along in her new life.
God is still alive.
I am alive
Joanna Wiebe, 2006