Old Farms, Abandoned

March 23, 2015

Abandoned farmhouse with swing set

Abandoned farmhouse with swing set

Window, abandoned farmhouse

Window, abandoned farmhouse

Steps to cellar

Steps to cellar

Barn ruin

Barn ruin

 

“Abandoned Farmhouse”
by Ted Kooser, from Flying at Night: Poems 1965 – 1985

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.

A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.

Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard.  Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child?  Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm — a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls.  Something went wrong, they say.

 

My Dad’s Winter Cap

March 14, 2014

 

My Dad's plaid woolen cap

My Dad’s plaid woolen cap

Watercolor sketch of my Dad's winter cap with ear flaps

Watercolor sketch of my Dad’s winter cap with ear flaps

This was one of my Dad’s winter caps, complete with earflaps for warmth against the cold and windy Minnesota winters.  He had another plaid cap with sheep’s wool lining and giant ear flaps, and he looked like Elmer Fudd whenever he wore it.  But, my Dad dressed for warmth, not fashion, like most sensible people do.

I don’t think my Dad wore a corduroy cap, but this poem by Ted Kooser reminds me of Dad all the same:

New Cap
by Ted Kooser

Brown corduroy,
the earflaps tied on top,
the same size cap he bought
when he was young,
but at eighty-six
a head’s a smaller thing
the hair gone fine and thin,
less meat to the scalp,
and not so much
ambition packed inside.
He squints from under the bill
as if the world
were a long way off,
and when he tips it back
to open his face
to conversation,
it looks so loose
you think that one of them,
the cap or he,
might blow away.