Even When It Rains
Every morning, he greets the sun,
his oatmeal sitting heavy with the third cup
of black coffee in his belly.
His face bears the lines of days spent
out in the open, where wind whips
grains of sand or pellets of ice,
both in one day many an early Spring.
His hands, old since his twenties, curl
in a perpetual claw that makes the young bride
at the farm two miles over wince,
but they still guide reins as well as any cowboy.
Hurley strokes the collie at his knees,
his 80-year-old eyes roving the bent and brittle fields
that define all the world needs to know
about “poor Ben,” who went to Europe
to save the world and came back a blunt
and dark-eyed man.
Even the pain in his belly he tries
not to think about cannot keep him
from walking the rows of cotton spiking
as it has struggled for generations
of Hurleys holding sharp bolls in practiced hands.
If he hadn’t left that pretty red-head in the pub
at the east end of London, Ben might not be the last
of cotton men in a family that once
ruled this country where the sand follows the rain.
April 3, 2015