kept the old farm hand. He’d
thumbed enough dirt off potatoes.
Seen hailstones pock the dirt road.
Watched a coyote rip a dog on the trail.
Had keys to the locks, knew
which windows to prop.
The past owner made baseball bats,
the ash billets shipped from Spokane.
The old farm hand
had to wave down the truck
and tip the driver, then carry
the bats, wrapped like bread,
to the basement.
He would eat dinner with the old owners,
but the new family only invited him once.
Squash rolls spread on the kitchen table.
Too much salt in the mushroom soup.
He had pumpkin stuck in his boots
and must have tracked orange
into the house. He picked at the flesh
with the tip of his knife.
The new owners didn’t like that
but they would get used to it.
Good help was rare.
Nick Ripatrazone is the author of The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature (Cascade Books) and of two books of poetry, Oblations and This is Not About Birds (Gold Wake Press).
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