Copyright © July 17, 2016 by Douglas W. Jerving.
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Maura made a wisp that day of honey combs
With grits and butter spread upon each plate;
Sausage patties fried in blossoms yellow
Hand-picked from the mustards now gone seed.
The summer squash was being saved for friends
More in need than they were for lack of rain.
They would make fine steaks garlic cuddled
On the fire with just a pepper or paste
Of fennel, leeks, or just a few green beans.
“I’ve got some work tonight” said Tom. He knew
That she’d agree to whatever paid bills
Before the looming mortgages now due,
Were satisfied. She did not care for that.
She nodded respectfully her disdain.
“I don’t suppose” she started, but then stopped.
Tom knew what she was after and he blinked
Without awareness. So she said again
“I don’t expect that much will come of that
Since nothing ever does.” And there it was.
Her words were out before the day began.
Those neighbors’ and laborers' plots were baked
In the heat of the same sun as their corn.
Their anarchy was burned by the light of day.
Tom pursed his lips and ate his eggs and fries,
Then went to the yards to tend corn and peas.
It was not his fault that several-acre plot
Of taxes had no benefit beyond
The joy of working burned up rocky soils.
“If it’s good enough for you, then so me”
So said the voice behind him as he tilled.
“I got nothing to lose.”
“Well I got family.
I got the wife, and still some property,
And maybe even a touch of dignity.
That don’t go far, but it’s enough for me.”
His Maura’s pain was ringing in his ear.
“You want, I see, to keep what you don’t have,
And I want to have what you cannot keep.”
And then “You cannot keep what you don’t own.”
Tom felt the sting.
“I’m working on something.”
He turned his back again to till hoping
The suit-and-tie stranger would go away.
He had few hours before his second shift
And no time for such nonsense.
Was the last word from the suit.
Is the first day of the rest of my life
And tomorrow never comes. Good Day Sir.”
Maura stood contemplating with complaint
Unaddressed, the plate Tom was not eating.
“We could let them have it for a song Tom.
My sister still has that place in the city.
Your job will pay the rent and we won’t beg.
You could still grow some beans and tomatoes.
Tomorrow I will call her.”
They will come! Tonight we are as good dead
As any dead become. They foreclose upon,
With lust and force, our very lives and those
We have provided for.”
“But I” said she
“can still cook squash as tender as a steak,
And you will still have gardens for your thumb.
We lose a house, but not our home. Our God
Will still reside tomorrow as today
Within our hearts with grace though ought depart
The pleasures of our little piece of land.”
Doug Jerving is the publisher of the NewEdisonGazette.com. You may contact him at
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