Poem by Nancy Posey
Art by Bud Caywood
Before and after his shifts
running the crane at the plant,
he farmed, his true calling.
Others lived to escape the life,
one son did, but he knew clay
ran in his veins, same as Adam.
Over time the sun blanched
his eyes, turning the blue
to cloudy white, but still
he worked the rows of beans,
potatoes, corn, summer’s bounty,
winter’s blessing. Best of all
his loved the melons. His cantelopes
and watermelons grew fat
and ripe in the Alabama sun.
Until I grew too old to act surprised,
he walked me to the back acres
covered in vines, where always
we found the first ripe melon.
Going through his annuals rites,
he thumped it, as sure of the sound
as an old time picker tuning up,
took out his pocket knife
and cut her open, right there
where we sat on the ground
and ate. He offered bites
skewered on the end of his blade
as if he offered some holy
sacrament. Every summer day
until the end, he filled his truck
so full it almost dragged the ground,
parking by the fire station
out on Cox’s Creek, giving away
free samples to anyone who’d stop
and talk—or listen. Long after
we knew he drove more by memory
than by sight, no one dared
suggest he just stay home.