Monday, November 14, 2022

Growing up in the Country

November Poem Day #14:

Thanks to Dennis Hammon Photograph--
Picture of Menan, Idaho, population 596 in 1975

Growing up in the Country

Growing up in the countryside amidst the horses, cows,
pigs, chickens, a few ducks and geese, and a large garden
make children grow up fast and learn responsibility.

Early mornings create some havoc for those of us
whose pillows have become our innate friends
and the warmth of the covers keeps us holed up in dreams.

The cooking bacon and eggs, hashbrowns
from real Idaho potatoes, waffles
and sometimes French toast lull us
into scrambling out of the beds, jumping
into old faded 501s, and shoving on our boots.

We eat a hearty breakfast, knowing that tomorrow
will come again with more food and gallons
of fresh, organic milk, organic in sense
of what sometimes floats to the top.

It’s all about the organic, living in the country
with winds, cows, strainers that the milk seeps through,
eliminating most of the organicness,
and cats, tortoiseshell and grays, that sip
on the foam in their favorite bowls
or open their mouths for squirts of warm milk.

In the spring, though, things get
a little gooey with a snow and rain mix.
We try to toss straw bales into the corrals
and mix it up with sloppy slush, hoping
it will soak it up and make it less sticky and smelly.

When the cow tromps into the barn to be milked,
we strap her tail in the hobbles, hoping with every fiber
of our brain that it will not come out.
Yet, we know it will, heavy-laden with manure
and barnyard muck, slapping us across the face,
coating us with awful-smelling stuff.

But that is the life of farm boys in early spring.
We just wash off, shower, splash on a little
of Dad’s Old Spice, hoping the girls at school
smell that and not the gunk from the barn.

At night, we repeat the daily chores—
feeding pigs, chipping ice in the winter,
tossing hay to horses and cows,
filling the chickens’ feeders, gathering
any eggs we missed during the morning run,
and then return to the house, wash up,
comb our hair so as to be presentable.
Before we sit, we stand, mom eying
each of us, taking inventory.

Then, she nods her approval, places
some sort of potatoes and all the accouterments
on the table, where we now sit
after passing inspection, heads bowed,
waiting to hear a thankful prayer to heaven,
all the while anticipating filling our growling,
empty stomachs and watering mouths.

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