I remember the green pickup,
coming home in the rain.
From the barn to the house
my father carried me piggyback,
beneath his oil-skinned slicker,
below his wet straw hat.

Cocky as a squirrel,
I looked out across
his shoulder at the dark, wet world
and breathed the smell
of damp straw and
manly sweat, felt the closed-in
warmth of blue cotton against
my arms, the certain rhythm
of booted steps in mud, confident
and steady, and I knew
no pelting rain could fall on me.

He might have warned me, "Son,
listen, other rains will come,
pounding shut your eyes
on highways you'll never ask
the name of." (And the miles of rain
I'd know would prove
it true.) But no. Not then.
He gave instead the gift of silence –
bursting like a young oak, fragile
as a bee's wing – as I
rode blue-cotton warm above
my father's booted feet, steadfast
in where we chose
to go and how we meant
to get there.

- Mark Scheel

Originally published in Nostalgia magazine
Used by permission of the poet

November 12, 1999 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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