Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chores - A Poem


rriish rriish rriish rriish
Rhythm of the saw.
Pull and push. The long blade
cuts slowly through the tree.
Small hands grip tall handles
and bodies move in time.
Give and take. Push and pull.
Forward and back.
Letting the rhythm work.
Young arms meet the strain.
Boy and little sister in late afternoon
cut the dried oak
in two foot lengths.

Like a player up to bat
he moves his frame to the pitch -
axe balanced in his hands,
he sloughs it up, head high,
and bears down to the log
with a crack, a split, and a sigh.
Balance a piece with his finger,
let go,
strike before it falls.
Crack, split, sigh.
Enough pie-sized splits
for another night.

Metal against metal.
eerr eek eerr eek
The stubby pump handle
creaks a song each day.
Pour a dipper of water
in the top
and pump like crazy.
Nothing.Do it again.
a sound (like pulling your foot out of mud)
and brown sandy water
pours from the pump mouth.
Pump a while till
the water’s clear and cold.
Pump with the right hand while
you cup the left over the lip
and drink.
Empty the buckets and rinse them.
Wipe away the rusty residue
from the iron in the water.
Put the board in place.
It takes 15 pumps to fill the drinking bucket,
and 20 for the aluminum one.


Although this was written in 1984, doing chores with my brother is one of my fondest memories of living on the farm. Working together, harmony, useful labor, contributing to the well-being of our family.


Cynthia said...

I love the way the poem takes me to that time and place through my senses--wonderful!

Cecilia said...

I am so glad to add this lovely, comforting memory to the searing one below.

Pax, C.