Anna Janzen

The Funk family windmill, in the Mennonite Brethren Ukrainian village where our family used to live, until 1923. This is a drawing I did about forty years ago, from a photo, for my uncle Jack. My cousin Jo-Ann has it now.

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

in Saskatchewan.

Joanna Wiebe, 2006

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