Finding a Way
Daddy started talking about planting the rest of the acres in wheat, 5 but then said, No, let's just go with what we've got right now.
And I've been playing a half hour 10 every day, making the skin stretch, making the scars stretch.
The way I see it, hard times aren't only about money, 15 or drought, or dust. Hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up.
20 The tractor's busted, we don't have the cash to fix it, but there's nothing saying Daddy can't do the work by hand. It can't be any harder than digging a hole 25 forty by sixty by six feet deep.
Daddy bought a second mule with Louise's help. Her betrothal gift to him. He walks behind the team, step by step, listing the fields to fight the wind. 30 Maybe the tractor lifted him above the land, maybe the fields didn't know him anymore, didn't remember the touch of his feet, or the stroke of his hand, or the bones of his knees, 35 and why should wheat grow for a stranger? Daddy said he'd try some sorghum, maybe some cotton, admitting as how there might be something to this notion of diversification folks were 40 talking about, and yes, he'd bring the grass back like Ma wanted, where he wasn't planting anything else. He'd make new sod. 45 And I'm learning, watching Daddy, that you can stay in one place and still grow.
I wipe dust out of the roasting pan, I wipe dust off Ma's dishes, 50 and wait for Daddy to drive in with Louise, hoping she'll stay a little later, a little longer, waiting for the day when she stays for good.
She wears a comical hat, with flowers, 55 in December, and when she smiles, her face is full enough of springtime, it makes her hat seem just right. 60 She brings apples in a sack, perfect apples she arranges in a bowl on the shelf, opposite the book of poetry. Sometimes, while I'm at the piano, 65 I catch her reflection in the mirror, standing in the kitchen, soft-eyed, while Daddy finishes chores, and I stretch my fingers over the keys, and I play.