Of all the poems I've written, this is perhaps my favorite. I think of it every time I'm back in the seclusion of my cabin.
THE INDIANS KNEW
No one really owns the land: the Indians knew it best,
And laughed to see the settlers, as they moved from east to west;
They'd quickly build their homes and clear the land, till it was bare:
But birds flew in unhindered, for no man can fence the air!
No one ever owns the land: the Indians had it right;
You may as well hold back the sun, or parcel out its light.
Though fence surrounds a property, it will not stop the deer
From moving freely to and fro, at different times of year.
No one can truly own the land. The Indians knew it well.
Yes, you may write up deeds, and even boldly buy and sell,
But talk to all the earthworms and the garter snakes and moles:
Tell them the land is yours, and tell them where to dig their holes.
Enclose your precious property and hoard each blade of grass;
Post signs that warn, "No Trespassing", but they will never last!
This earth belongs to everyone who ever drew a breath,
And someone else will claim it when you close your eyes in death.
I seem to hear the Indians, in my spirit, laughing still.
The white man claims to own the land, each valley and each hill:
He plows and discs and harrows it, and sows his precious seed---
But after he's asleep at night, the deer and rabbits feed!