Below is a poem I wrote in 1980s about my grade school Holy Weeks of the early 1960s.
Holy Week 1962
while others talked of Palms,
off to the shed
to ready the tools.
Asking about 9/16 nuts,
why I have to call the neighbor man Mister,
and where to put the raked up leaves.
We planned summer projects,
sometimes sketching them in dirt.
Hours spent in interrupted silence.
Three days of school,
with tests before Spring break,
not receiving full attention.
Working before dinner
became warm-ups for the weekend.
After he lit his pipe,
and changed to his well-worn Army pants,
we inspected the piles of leaves
and stacks of limbs,
discovering the low spots
to fill in Thursday.
The hemlocks were doing well.
Up before the school bus would normally come
using a long-handled shovel to move
rich dirt from the woods to the low spots.
Raking with man’s gloves
puts you close to the earth—
in touch with the ants
and the moss you’ve been taught about.
The Angelus said itself.
without changing his clothes,
he broadcasted rye and bluegrass like a sacrament.
A final blessing before a good rain.
A Good Friday spent indoors
allowing the rain to work,
moving paint cans,
counting 9/16 wrenches,
Three Hours became acceptable.
A Saturday of waiting,
stacking the burn pile,
praying the rain would hold off
until he got home from work.
Later, watching him paint the screens,
I asked, once again, how do tractors work.
He could paint neatly and talk at the same time.
a basket of eggs and grass
stole my attention
while he read the Sunday paper.
Afterwards, he showed my brothers and me
how to punt real high
and how to dam up the creek.
A day’s sun pulling up daffodils,
calling out red maples,
renewing the promise of Spring,
making more immediate
whether I would be allowed to mow
the grass by myself this summer.