my husband, kept this garden; he so loved
the labor after banking hours, or just
to sit out in the arbor of a night
in August with the sprinkler spinning swiftly in
the air so dry it fit against your skin
like fresh-pressed corduroy or braided hemp.
He'd can, and he'd preserve; he'd slap our plates
at every serving hard with gatherings from
behind the yard. But it's been twenty years
since Paul fell down and, falling, plowed his head
into the corner of his spade and gouged
his skull in such a way his brains wormed out
into a furrow set for corn.
who watched my husband stumble is the man
who does the garden now. He keeps it all,
unless some evenings there's tomatoes washed
and nestled lovely in a paper sack
at my back porch. They look too beautiful,
you know, to eat. Then I forget. And then
those little flies too quick, too minuscule
to swat convene, and gorge, and breed, and die.
Prairie Schooner, Vol. 73, No. 1 (Spring 1999), p. 95
R. F. McEwan, author of Heartwood and Other Poems (A Slow Tempo P), has been a tree trimmer since 1963 and a school teacher since 1973. He currently is a professor of English and Humanities at Chadron State College, in Chadron, Nebraska. His work has appeared in, among other journals, Kansas Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Nebraska Life, and Prairie Schooner. He co-produced “Tell a Story: Joe Heaney in the Pacific Northwest” (Camsco), a two-CD collection of the stories of Joe Heaney, the noted Irish sean nos singer and storyteller.
Over his lifetime he has worked as a shoe shiner, rack boy, booze-runner in a neighborhood pool hall, golf caddy, night shift worker at a steel mill, tree trimmer, English substitute teacher, middle school teacher, and university professor.