One Hard Row
by James B. Goode
10/10/95


He appeared,
At first an apparition,
Scarred as his safety-toed boots--
Blue Denim jump jacket,
Silver metal dinner bucket
Banging the lamp buckle on his mining belt.
He moved through like descending dark
Below the darting Chimney Swallows
Casting winged shadows
Across the ritual black dust
Spread on his whiskered, creviced face.
Black hole dues
Paid
And paid for that day,
He hung his coat on a grey fence post
And moved into his little garden patch
To hoe one hard row each time...
Like a quilt,
Piece by piece and
Stitch by stitch
Below the watchful eye of his hoe
The dirt was raked to the searching roots.
Life was in green tendrils
Wound like springs around the forked brush.
One row at a time
Each evening
Below a sinking sun
He did it
Until it was done.
One hard row hoed
And hoed...