What I Learned From My Grandmother

Work in the fields is hard.
Men come home without fingers and limbs,
Sometimes lifeless in the back of beat-up trucks
and squeaky wagons. Maybe you’ll get a chance
to visit bedside in a hospital in the nearest town,
gaze at the broken body and the bandages.
Maybe you won’t get that chance because
no one can recount the details, no one saw.
Sorry, ma’am, there was nothing could be done,
nothing, not now, not then, not ever.
Here’s what’s left of him and his clothes.
He was a decent man. That’s what I learned.
I learned this sweet life could be over in a flash.
We could be struck down off a John Deere
tractor like a dove picked off a low fence line
by a well-aimed rock. One minute you’re here
happy, singing like a lark, and the next…
well…it’s a good thing horses and wheels
and the sky can’t talk. That’s what I learned.


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