A Boy’s Notion of Chores
by Douglas Luman
It is a hot day. The men are out in the fields haying. There is
a great deal of poetry about haying—at least for those not engaged in it. Instead, imagine yonder thistle is some whiskered villain. Advance on him with a cry of die ruffian!
You want to use this language of men until you’re red in the face.
You charge upon rows of mullein as if they, too, are rebels. Hew them down without mercy. Slash off their heads with your bill-hook.
But, even war gets tiresome.
You take up a corncob that lay on the ground & throw it at a turkey. How angry that turkey is. Gobble, gobble, he says.
You are like the rabbit who is not afraid until he hears the sound
of a gun.
Still, even you couldn’t explain why you stopped off to stone some frogs.
You are not exactly cruel.
You just wanted to see if you could hit ‘em.
Tramping all day through bush & brier, fighting flies & mosquitoes, branches that tangle the line, & snags that break hooks, returning home late & hungry with wet feet. The family crowds out the kitchen door to look & say pretty well done for you, bub; did you catch the big one.
The sarcasm has no effect on you, but you knew there were trout there.
You’ve never caught a fish & have always regretted that.
The dog knows the part of farming that suits him. He spends fifteen minutes hallooing at a distant bird. He follows it away out of sight over the woods & then wishes it would come back again.
You could have sold him if he had not been the kind of dog nobody will buy.
So, you threw stones at him. How fast he ran.
A dog is only useful to bite peddlers & small children & run out & yelp at wagons that pass by, or to howl all night when the moon shines.
How many dogs are destroyed in this kind of gossip.
Still, you wish you were the dog.
About Douglas Luman
Douglas Luman is the Book Reviews Editor for the Found Poetry Review, Assistant Poetry Editor for Stillhouse Press, and an MFA candidate at George Mason University. He most likely can be found sleeping in a library somewhere in Northern Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @douglasjluman, or at http://www.douglasjluman.com.
Text adapted from:
Large, Laura Antoinette Stevers. A Visit to the Farm. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1916.
Warner, Charles Dudley. Being a Boy. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co., 1878.