WHERE THE STEEL OF PLOUGHS
Is made a frozen custard stand sat
on the way out of the city, Baltimore
shrinking in the rear view mirror
of our ’54 Ford, my mother’s arm
in the window, the air in her hair,
the Irish in her a fire in her eyes.
We made this trip on Sundays,
my father wanting to drive to where
he worked, on this his day off, to see
the victory again, a check each week,
no hot fields down home in old clothes,
his house now brick with a basement,
a lawn, petunias in the backyard,
his children in big city schools.
One summer we all tore up
the front yard to kill the crabgrass,
back again in the feeling of farming,
a grub hoe in my hands, I was like
a man, picking it up and wielding
the thing, John’s hammer against
the mountain one more time,
learning to be a human machine.
In kindergarten my mother turned
to see me following her home, returning,
going back to what I knew, with all its
joy, all its hurt. Leaving universities,
I put my feet on the lawn again,
to kill crabgrass, to study gratitude.