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Looking for God's Country

by Norbert Krapf


The Nest

At the edge of the woods
where it comes close to a corner

of the house, between the moist
curves of ferns unfurling in brown

leaves, I found this tiny nest
in the ground. It was lined

with elements that looked to be
soft to the touch. This was right

near Easter. There was squiggly
movement in that lined hole

in the ground. What moved was
newborn rabbits, so tiny you could

barely tell what they were, and I tip-
toed as close as I dared. My mother

told me that if my smell came too close,
the mother would abandon her babies.

I sensed that the difference between
loving and killing was eggshell thin,

but it was hard to control my impulse
to inch closer and closer. Reader, 

I cannot be sure if I stayed far enough
away from what I longed to touch

but knew I must not. Is it shame that
blocks me from remembering the out-

come of this backyard tale? Let us join
hands and pray, in our different ways,

that we learn how to control our impulse
to love that which dies if we come too close.



Divided into four sections, these new poems describe youthful rites of passage in which death is seen as part of life; follow the German immigrants back to Krapf’s ancestral Franconia, the setting of 26 poems inspired by the photographs of Andreas Riedel; move into settings connected with World War II and a reunited Germany; and return to the poet’s origins and reflections on mortality set in his native southern Indiana. As in Krapf’s earlier work, family history, nature, and personal relationships, in connection with a sense of place and origins, provide the subject matter for many of the poems.


In half a lifetime of writing history and poetry about the . . . communities of the Jasper [Indiana] area and their German antecedents, Krapf has shown a sense of place and ethnic identity that radiates out to universal brotherhood. . . . He reminds us of the all-American Walt Whitman, who remained “a part of all that I have met” and of Wendell Berry, who sings of his beloved Kentucky that he has seen the worst and best of humankind there.
— Dan Carpenter, The Indianapolis Star 

Norbert Krapf . . . has always spoken eloquently, but without pretension, of spirit and home in his poems. Looking for God’s Country, which blends German memories with the American heartland, may be his best collection yet.
— Joseph Bruchac, Native American poet, novelist, and storyteller, and founder and co-director of the Greenfield Review Literary Center



This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.

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