Threshing 1947*

The best time was on the wagon

rolling home under sundown

with the team in synch,

the wheels' macadam music

marking old men's stories

fashioned to sustain the young

for another day.

How Uncle Armour fished for bass

with an ancient telephone

and blew up his canoe

settling to the bottom slough

amid stunned silversides

minus gear and glory. Why

Wilvin had to stand at church

because he took buckshot backside


stealing Otis Fyffey's melons.

The day Cousin Leonard froze

and dropped the cat below

when a whirlwind out of nowhere

absconded with his outhouse skin.

The afternoon the Rosboroughs

burned down Cochran's farm

because he never mended fences.

His angus bull (unregistered)

invaded the neighbor's whiteface

heifers waiting eagerly in heat.

The midnight Grandpa's sawed-off

rifle tanked the henhouse skunk

but not before retort - the

dawn when Grandma secretly

buried favorite overalls.

Between the lore and laughter

in the evening of content

how could I have known

combine cabs to come

would clear-cut all the stooks

without a trace of metal spikes

and close the Lathrop saga down.

Jerome Lathrop McElroy


*Accepted Poetic Voices (May 2000).