Born and raised in Red Wing, Minnesota, Robert Hedin holds degrees from Luther College and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He is the author, translator, and editor of twenty-four books of poetry and prose, including The Light Under The Door, The Old Liberators: New and Selected Poems and Translations, The Dream We Carry: Selected and Last Poems of Olav H. Hauge (co-translated with Robert Bly), and Old Glory: American War Poems from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism.
He has taught at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska, the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska, St. Olaf College, and Wake Forest University, where he was Poet-in-Residence from 1980-1992. In 2001-2002, he served as the Edelstein-Keller Writer of Distinction at the University of Minnesota, a special chair in the Program of Creative Writing.
Robert Hedin is co-founder (with his wife, Carolyn) and former Executive Director of the Anderson Center at Tower View, the largest residential artist retreat center in the Upper Midwest, and served as editor of the award-winning literary journal, Great River Review, from 1997-2015. (Robert Hedin Biography)
I picked this poem in honor of the up-coming election because these men (and women) Hedin is writing about are the very ones who fought to protect our rights as a free America. We’re losing them now. I wonder how soon we’ll forget how we came to have this great freedom that we’re blessed with…
The Old Liberators
those veterans of the Bulge, Anzio, or Monte Cassino
I see lost in Automotive or back in Home Repair,
bored among the paints and power tools.
Or the really old ones, the ones who are going fast,
who keep dozing off in the little orchards
of shade under the distant skylights.
All around, from one bright rack to another,
their wives stride big as generals,
their handbags bulging like ripe fruit.
They are almost all gone now,
and with them they are taking the flak
and fire storms, the names of the old bombing runs.
Each day a little more of their memory goes out,
darkens the way a house darkens,
its rooms quietly filling with evening,
until nothing but the wind lifts the lace curtains,
the wind bearing through the empty rooms
the rich far off scent of gardens
where just now, this morning,
light is falling on the wild philodendrons.