58. Discing

Hadn’t ought to be no weeds:
There was no rain.
But there they were.
Tom now with the disc harrow
Plowed the topsoil up
To seal low moisture in.
Such, the practice–
As if any wet survived!–
Thomas thought,
Must be some water, deep.
It grows weeds.
But weeds broke out
When all else went wrong.
Generations back,
Eager ranchers had run cattle
On this land.
When weed patches
Clambered through the grass,
They knew they’re overgrazing,
They knew, but did nothing–
What could they?
Got to sell a mess of cattle,
Or up north, a lot of wheat–
Cotton bales–
To make a living.
Banks don’t give no loans
On good intentions, Thomas thought.
Banks loan on cash crops.

Tom rattled in the tractor,
Dulled by drone–
The iron seat
Rubbed sores on where he sat.
He’d not soften it:
That’s all I need,
Someone to see me perched
On frilly pads.
More to worry–
Riah’d washed all day,
Was itching to come out.
Always you would find her
On that tractor,
Even that time
When they’d hired help.
That’s when folks had noticed.
Working when you have to,
That was one thing–
Want to, not the same.
She’d leave garden, house, to plow.

Tom wished
He could buy a place in town,
Keep her far from all this
Work, grit, sweat,
And the neverending
Of it all–
Now his shoulders ached
From steering straight.
Haven with nice chairs
Like Bud bought Patty–
Tom felt eased–a home.
All wives longed for such.
But she had none.

Not so many weeds up,
After all.
He peered back at them
As he roared by.
Dry gets them at last.
Well, hoeing would be easy–
Maybe none!
No cotton, no more work
To bellyache:
Joke’s on us.
He coughed in his kerchief.
Nagging thought–
What did Riah want
With Louise Kemp?
Common knowledge,
Woman is bad news.
Talking in the grocery.
Worse, he half mistrusted,
If she came up
To the door, she’d be
Let in.
He’d put his foot down then.

Vibration jammed his spine:
Tom’s face was firm.
First, tractors.
Now, this.
He suspected
What he guessed they all thought
Might be right.
Give Riah an inch,
She’d take a mile.

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