Tag Archives: Childhood



Children have a great sense of smell

Maybe that’s why
their diapers make them cry

their first
breast sends them
on a lifelong quest
and a cinnamon bun
can stop us all in the mall

On a farm there’s hay
before it goes into the cow
and hay when it comes out

The pungency of pig, the foul of fowl

Rain before the first drop falls
and the whip of lightning after it cracks

Smoke on dad’s clothes from the prairie fire
snuff from the round box cutting his shirt

The dog, even wet, not diminished in love

If lost in a blizzard, or in the dark
it is always best to let go of the reins
so the horse’s nose can point you home

Lost in the world at four a.m.
twice blessed if yours can do the same



In leisure he revisits
things seen but never noticed in his youth
though they lay but a short arms length away

Cow with ingrown horn
then a saw-wire from repair
now metaphor for defense gone wrong

The deep snow forts of play
two Fahrenheit degrees away
from smother and a crying mother

Frost on a winter window
a forest of trees of finest lace
meant too cold to go outside today
now the music of the spheres in form

Best not to be a poet young
very little would get done

HOW I LOST MY FAITH – In Preachers

It was a cold and muddy Sunday
Our little caravan of Christians
children, parents and student minister
stuck in the spring mud a mile from church

Me and city cousin Wayne
the chosen ones at age seven
chosen to walk
to the nearest neighbour
while the others wait in the cars

The neighbor’s not home
but his Cockshutt 40 tractor is

Some combination of farm boy bravado
and reluctance to slog
back to the cars in defeat
comes out as “I can drive a tractor!”

One foot each on the clutch
and a good deal of grinding
gets us into low gear
and off at about two miles per

The student minister meets us
two thirds of the way back

As our leader
in all things spiritual
and practical
he decrees that we are going
far too slow
and selects another gear
(probably at random, he’s from the city too)

The one he picks is the fastest
known in these parts as “Road Gear”
and we quickly accelerate to thirty

which causes the preacher to panic
(or remember that he forgot his bible)
and leap off

leaving us to wrestle the big red monster
now wildly careening from rut to rut
and rocketing toward the mired cars
and fearful families

Wrenching the wheel to the right
at the last possible moment
we narrowly avoid death and destruction
and stall to a stop in the water-filled ditch
amidst the prayers of the congregation