With a traditional history in North America, at least, of male ownership of farms, rural women were often overlooked in the social microscope. I wrote this “fictional” poem a while back. Thought I would share it today in response to poetry prompt for Monday at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.
R U R A L R U M I N A T I O N S
Katie Anne used to wonder
When I called for tea
How many questions I would ask
While we slathered her buttermilk biscuits
With creamy creamery butter and
Spread them with Cousin Rosie’s red raspberry jam
We used to talk
I learned about how it was on the farm
She told me all about the garden
The number of rows of yellow and green beans,
Followed by sixty hills of potatoes
10 tall spiky rows of corn
Snippy little baby green peas
Dramatic bleeding crimson beets beside rows of hopeful orange carrots
Sidled by sprawling green cucumbers and zucchini.
This was all manageable, she said
But, I wondered, how was it really to be the only woman
Among so many males–her husband and sons–who were caught up in the farm?
Priorities were clear
First the animals—enough grain and hay to feed them all winter
Then out to pasture come spring
Second the machinery and buildings
What was a farm without a barn and a shed to house that entire expensive inventory?
Third, well I guess that is where the house fitted in
As long as the roof wasn’t leaking, the children were fed and dry
The men could fit in a week to chop the wood and kindling for the stove.
The clothesline would last for another year
Save all that electricity by not buying a clothes dryer
I came for tea
She knew me less
Forgot the biscuits and jam
The kettle of water was dry
Her state of mind was not clear
She wandered around the house
Tearing at clothes
Waiting for the Holy Father
To give her absolution
For what? That I don’t know.
- My interview with the Rural Lit R.A.L.L.Y. (followingpulitzer.wordpress.com)
- Initiative Empowers Rural Women (voanews.com)