One of the many stories my dad told me about growing up in a farm community in Roanoke, Illinois, was how helpful the people were when catastrophe struck. Everybody pitches in to keep their neighbor afloat.
As every farmer knows, when it rains on a field of harvested but unbaled wheat, the whole crop is gone because the seeds swell and mold—a year’s work gone, a year’s income gone.
This poem is about how a bunch of ten-year olds helped their neighbor. They kept it a secret from the aduts until the deed was evident. It is a true story. The rest of the story is that my dad and his friends daily walked by that farm on their way to school, and more than once were rewarded with home made ice cream.
When developing the poem, I didn’t consciously decide to use baseball language, but it slipped in, so I expanded it into the whole poem. It’s an example of the poem telling the poet how it wants to be written. What is more American than baseball and the teamwork it implies, and what is more American than helping another without being prompted.
by Betty L Beer
At midnight, after Old Mr. Shuler’s plans
for a rich wheat harvest shattered
along with his left leg,
ten-year old William and his friends
shove their giggles into their fists,
squeeze out of their screened
drop like seeds,
and blow into their neighbor’s field.
All night their shadows
bend and rake and pitch
bringing in the crop
as if it were a home run.
And just before the lightning
throws its wettest curve,
they hurl golden
bundles into his barn
and run to their beds,
their shoes flinging a trail of yellow fines.
They dream the reality that Old Mr. Schuler slowly
looks out his east window in dread of ruin,
and laughs, yes laughs, at the rain.
Featured image by Brittney., under the creative commons license on Flickr.