A Small Wisconsin Life

, I want to share my first published poem.  It was published in the Wisconsin Poet Calendar.  That goal of getting into that publication spurred my imagination to recollect my important memories. It forced me to live in that poem and get it match what was in my head.

My Small Wisconsin Life

(previously published in Wisconsin Poet’s Calendar 1999)

You have forgotten dusty roads

dogs flopped down under the pine tree

cats loitering on the milk-house steps

Dad out plowing

Mom working second shift

after school chores,

                throwing hay from the mow

                busting bales open in the manger

                scraping the floor

                then enduring the cold crunch of lime

                      as you showered the floor

Dad opening the door to let Donna, Lulabelle,

Becky and the rest rush in with steamy breaths.

Too often I neglected

Dad’s stories as he’d put his hand on a cow’s back

                and sshoop-sshoop-shoop-shoop he had a milker on

standing in the doorway with him watching the evening sky

him and me zig-zagging three milkers across the aisle

                as the cows stared at the walls and waited their turn

WGN fading out on the am radio.

Too faded are the memories

So different was my life

driving tractor

                watching the ground roll by

                and daydreaming

                haying season

                the baler a three piece band setting the beat

                loading the creaking wagon boat

                     as it navigated the alfalfa sea

                returning atop the rustling cargo of bales.

My kids will never have a small Wisconsin life

                run through a cornfield

                race a bike down a worn cowpath,

                then explore cow-trampled woods

                feed a newborn calf

                build a hay fort

                run on sun-cured hayfields

                have dad always a walk away.

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