One of the wonderful things about Local Lives: Poems About the Pennsylvania Dutch, ©1975, by Millen Brand, is that it’s not just a book of poems– it’s a local history.
Ralph Berky is the real name of a real person, and the poem describes his real life:
by Millen Brand
A German of an old name
who goes back to the old sounds.
Perhaps something Indian in him.
He walks long distances.
He stands still often.
He stands still in a road to listen,
a back road between a field and wood.
A farmer in the field is suspicious.
Anybody who stands still…
He knows the sound of the beeches, bird against cone-bur,
the boring, hypnotic drill of the sapsucker,
the variations of wind,
wind in fern, wind in grass,
the approach of rain in the distance.
He is the lover of the place.