Holy Week 1962

Below is a poem I wrote in 1980s about my grade school Holy Weeks of the early 1960s.

Holy Week 1962

After church,

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.

 

After dinner,

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,

straightening tools,

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.

 

After church,

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.

 

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