'Mama, with an axe, trudged tirelessly each day through deep snow'

entry picture

Missouri poet Kitty Carpenter could have chosen any number of titles for her poem, a moving and difficult accounting of how the roles of parent and child change as a result of the passing of time; but it is, in the end, a poem that locates its hope in memory — the memory that the farm represents for her when she thinks of her mother’s strength.

 

FARM SONNET

by Kitty Carpenter

The barn roof sags like an ancient mare’s back.
The field, overgrown, parts of it a marsh
where the pond spills over. No hay or sacks
of grain are stacked for the cold. In the harsh
winters of my youth, Mama, with an axe,
trudged tirelessly each day through deep snow,
balanced on the steep bank, swung down to crack
the ice so horses could drink. With each blow
I feared she would fall, but she never slipped.
Now Mama’s bent and withered, vacant gray
eyes fixed on something I can’t see. I dip
my head when she calls me Mom. What’s to say?
The time we have’s still too short to master
love, and then, the hollow that comes after.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also upported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Kitty Carpenter, 'Farm Sonnet', from Rattle, (Winter 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Kitty Carpenter and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

 

◄ Byron's deathbed cheque that helped Greek fight for independence

Poetic talents blossom: crowd-sourced poem celebrates spring 2021 ►

Comments

No comments posted yet.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message