78. Summer 1934

Spring had passed.
Wind was calmer
Through the shriveled leaves.

Cotton, scanty–
Seed on barren ground.
Ragged sprouts sliced
Up through mounds of sand,
Weakly green.

School turned out its
Students to the fields,
Chopping cotton
Back to what might
Live: roots stole
From each other.
Hoeing weeds–
Not much left to
Hoe. In years
Past, this labor
Spanned the summer.
Now, done in
A day.

Time for once lay
Heavy on their hands.
By noon, field work done.
Dishes had been
Washed up: pot of beans.
Trays of biscuits,
Rare, so less to
Scrub. Meat had
Disappeared–
Fatback, only
Some days.
Cooking time had been
Replaced by sweeping–
And the dust was
Everywhere as air.

Children, in from
Play, found fathers dozing,
Watching as their
Wives hung out the wash.
The land needed
No one, not their
Care. Businesses that
Sold feed, tractors,
Cars, had let men
Go.

James was scowling:
Bet they’re sorry
Sold our radio.
They had not
Consulted him on that.
Tom now read
The paper twice a day.
Ma’d tired of
The broom now,
James could see.
She roamed room to
Room and straightened
Things. Bands on
Radio would be
A welcome blessing.

“Bet they’re
Sorry now,” James
Sighed.

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