|Magpie Tales Prompt|
Grandpa bought it for real cash,
folded bills out of a canvas wallet.
Bright blue paint, rounded fenders.
Big black tires biting the dirt road.
Arm out the open window, he smiles.
Gone are the days of a wagon and team.
The old geldings resting three legged in
the back pasture under the poplars.
Grandma met him at the front door.
Hands drying on her pressed apron,
looking in wonder at the new truck.
He takes her hands, looks her in the eye,
"Honey you are gonna drive her for me,
we have to harvest the wheat this week."
She nods, knowing the boys are busy
running the threshing machine she fears.
She won't look at it, remembering that day.
Her childhood blotted out in blood as her
dad died there, bleeding on the straw.
Farm wife, yes, farming wife never.
She never went to the fields, unless
she was bringing food to leave on the wagon.
She never looked, she knew she'd still see.
He takes her by the hand, and lifts her up.
She's light as a feather, and trembling so.
The truck is so big! Huge. New. Loud.
The gear knob seems so dirty in her hand,
the steering wheel big and stiffly turning.
Clutch deep down, brakes hard and tight.
"Check your mirrors. Don't get stuck."
He reminds her, fearing the worst.
She doesn't drive, and he knows it.
"Follow me to the field, it's easy."
Whine, growl, clunk - she stalls it flat.
It roars to life again, rumbling away.
She idles in first gear, fearing to shift.
She grips the wheel so tight, her hands ache.
The field looms a waving gold killer.
Grandma is stuck. Stuck in the past.
Stuck in this truck. Stuck on the farm.
Stuck because she loves him more.
The truck rolls to a stop, rumbling,
he looks back and sees her tears.
Washing her face, her eyes a blur.
Suddenly the harvest is forgotten.
He remembers too, he was a boy then.
The blood on the wheat, the screams.
The door opens, and he pulls her out.
He understands and holds her close.
She leans, moans and then pulls back.
"We've got a field to get done," she whispers.
"And the bread is rising. I don't have all day."
Hand in hand they stay a moment longer.
Nodding, he knows, and they pull together
as they always did, always do, and the job
got done. Again. The tears dried. Again.
The rough voices and work worn hands of farmers and farming wives seldom reveal their tender hearts for the land, their crops and their animals. They rarely let you in to their hurts and hopes. But every table that bears a meal, ever full cupboard or fridge is because of their love, their passion, their sweat and tears. I dedicate this poem to Lester, Nellie, Albert, Walter and Effie and all those who came before and who come after that feed us. SJS