Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Timed By A Big Ben Watch ~ Pearle M. Olsen ~ Her memories of Hugh Barton

On a high load of hay
 Looking like a giant mushroom
Hugh often hunched beside his father
As their hay team strained in harness, to tug
A creaking wagon in slow motion.
Long-sleeved shirts and faded bib overalls
Sheathed both men to wrists and ankles,
A looped leather chain tied a palm-sized watch
to Hugh's breast pocket, and wide
Straw hats cast their island of shade.

Hugh, trained well in the ways of soil men
As they labored their sweating days.
Moon signs told the time for planting seeds,
And their early harvests set a local record.
They lived on the yield of their land:
A grass-mounded root cellar, a few cows,
Lambs, and pigs, with nestings
 Of a dozen chickens -- and flour
Millmade from their own wheat
Provided a full provender.

Their design of days repeated, unerringly,
With Hugh drawing his old watch
From a bulging pocket at regular intervals
As seasons paced their cycles.
Neighbors became anxious about Hugh
When left in his fifty-fifth year.
But a dying father had marketed his farm
To provide annuities for the son,
Deprived of a normal life
 By a blighting childhood disease.

Time-worn patterns still prevail
As Hugh wields his worn and weakened hoe.
He calls daily at the post office,
And sees new shows at the cinema.
Sundays find him in the same chapel seat,
And loyally he trudges to the cemetery,
A traditional bread and milk supper,
Topped by a drugstore ice-cream sundae
Ends each near-automated day
Timed by a Big-Ben watch.

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