This week’s poem has a French title that means “the lost land.” We don’t know who is talking here, only that it’s someone who has lost a country and is remembering it in an unadorned way – note the lack of punctuation and capital letters.

The poem doesn’t need to tell us how much it hurts to lose a homeland. This heavy loss is implicit in the sharpness of the way the speaker remembers how a sunset looked amid the giant, old trees.

Dawn Potter lives in Portland and directs the Conference on Poetry and Teaching at the Frost Place. She’s the author of seven books, including her most recent book of poems, “Same Old Story.”

la terre perdue

By Dawn Potter

back in my country

we hardly knew what a sunset was

the trees were so dense

weighted with lichen and time

at evening the shadows

of the pines the firs the tamaracks

would crowd the heavens

and on a summer night the sky

would sink into a blue so black

it was the wet ink of fountain pens

it was old work shirts forgotten in the rain

and now a lemony streak of light

would finger each giant’s shadow

and the day birds would cry out

their last words their last words

and now silence and now

the owl would begin to speak

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Dawn Potter. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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