A young couple live in Florida during the Great Depression when jobs are scarce and a young man must do what he has to do to keep his family housed and fed.
The Ice House Job
The Ice House Job
After working 9 hours in the hot Florida sun,
he came home to eat a meal with her and his kids.
She told him how she wished he could stay with her
and rest, let her rub his back. I get scared here without you.
But he said he had to pay the rent, put food on the table.
As the kids were tucked into bed, he climbed
into his old truck, headed to work.
It should have been a relief after the sun burned
his skin to dark brown leather, but he wore his ragged
jacket and a cap with flaps over his ears
as if he had walked into dead of winter in Wisconsin.
Alone in the quiet he wondered how long could he go on
working two jobs, getting little sleep.
His back, tired from plowing mules all day,
his hands cold and chapped, he chopped
the fifty pound blocks. With both hands he clamped
the tongs that griped the slippery squares, swung his shoulders
tossing his burden up on the platform, over and over
until the clock said midnight, quitting time.
He climbed into bed too tired to bathe.
Her hand reached through the night,
touched his face. He slept but she lay awake
thinking of going home to Georgia, seeing her folks,
hearing him laugh again, and tell his stories to the kids.
After forty years of farming, a man can't just sit down and quit. He rises early every day and works a large plot of ground that feeds his children and grandchildren all summer, if only they would come and harvest his crop.
|Daddy with his granddaughter, Carrie, on his birthday. Note the baseball player and the baseball on the cake. He loved baseball and was a very good player when he was a young man.|
Once he cultivated vast acres of cotton,
peanuts, harvested bounteous crops
Grey haired, now he sits in his frayed lawn chair,
sweat staining his chambray shirt, pock-marked
with burn holes from his Pall Malls.
His stooped frame rests from a morning
spent spraying tomatoes, trying to murder
small bugs who battle him for his harvest.
His eyes survey a pristine garden.
Tall corn and green beans climb twine
strung on poles in rows equally distanced.
Piles of summer squash strewn on clean straw
hide under leaves large as sun hats.
He caresses the cropped ears of his canine friend.
The cigarette ash grows long. He hardly notices
the shortened smoke, the fire against his callouses.
---Glenda Council Beall