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American life in poetry ‘Old Friends’ by Freya Manfred

Minnesota has many fine writers, gathered together by a deep and trusting affection for one another. Freya Manfred has been an important part of that community for her entire life, having been brought up at the side of her father, Frederick Manfred, a master novelist of the American West. Here’s a poem from Freya’s new book from Red Dragonfly Press, “Loon In Late November Water.”

Old Friends

Old friends are a steady spring rain,

or late summer sunshine edging into fall,

or frosted leaves along a snowy path-

a voice for all seasons saying, I know you.

The older I grow, the more I fear I’ll lose my old friends,

as if too many years have scrolled by

since the day we sprang forth, seeking each other.

Old friend, I knew you before we met.

I saw you at the window of my soul-

I heard you in the steady millstone of my heart

grinding grain for our daily bread.

You are sedimentary, rock-solid cousin earth,

where I stand firmly, astonished by your grace and truth.

And gratitude comes to me and says:

“Tell me anything and I will listen.

Ask me anything, and I will answer you.”

— American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Introduction copyright 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. Unsolicited manuscripts are not accepted.

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