Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

That Miller Brood

That Miller Brood

By Martha Gwinn Kiser

"There goes that Miller Brood!" they used to say
When old Dan Miller and his wife and kids
Would ride through town in Dan's old muddy wagon.
And Lily, the eldest of the clan,
Just fourteen, and as pretty as could be,
Though knowing not exactly what their words,
Knew ALMOST what they said by what they looked.

And so they never stopped to talk in town,
Nor went to visit friends, nor kith or kin,
And weekly trips with eggs and homemade butter
Were all the visiting that they ever did.

"Why don't we go to SEE somebody once?
Like Cuarks? And Jodie Hallet's pa and ma!
Why don't we never have no place to go?
And why don't folks come here, is what I'd like to know!"

And old Miz Miller, pressed by Lily's words,
Would pucker up her mouth and look away:
"We used to go to church—your pa and me,
Before we had the debts and such hard times—
Miz Mullis asked me there to Sewin' Bee!
But then—my shoes was old—nigh off my feet.

I never went. I guess that she got miffed.
The time the teacher asked you to recite
You had no dress—I know it wasn't right!
But could I SAY that we were just so poor
We couldn't buy a little goods for you to wear?
I guess they though 'twas meanness made me say
There was so much at home to do that you would have to stay.
Your pa—I guess—could got into the lodge,
But that took money, too. And so, you see . . .

And so—We kind of got to stayin' home,
And people then, I guess, expected it,
And never asked us anymore!
And when they wasn't tablecloths or
Anything to put upon 'em in a dish,
Why course, they never got asked neither—
And so—Well—I don't know . . ."

And so the Miller brood rode into town
On Saturdays, to look at the store windows.
And Lily turned her head when her schoolmates
Passed by and would go for wild fox grapes,
Or into Kildare County for persimmons
They'd take their lunch and picnic by the road,
And folks who saw them go would say,
"There goes that shiftless Miller Brood!"

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Winter 1941)


Martha Gwinn Kiser was a poet and writer of children's books from Maywood, Illinois. Her work appeared in trade journals, popular magazines, and newspapers.

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