Dickinson College Farm
the dirt '08

Bogalusa , 1952

Will Crain '08

For My Grandfather

From the front porch you watched two men shuffle their feet in the stubbled cornfield. You imagined the crunch of cut stalks under the weight of your father's oiled leather boots, the pair you would carefully lace your feet into after your parents had gone to bed.

Rifle in hand, your father addressed him. He was a stranger, bible-black, caught trespassing. Your land was a shortcut from the bus station to town, he said.

A month before, you and your father tilled the same field. Taking turns on the worn Ford tractor, he showed you how to lay blade to the rich, compact soil; how to turn the top layer of turf over and let older earth breathe.

The gun rested snug against your father's shoulder, the end a dull keyhole; a rusted omphalos eyeing origins.

The two men talked only a minute. They parted and your father watched the man leave through the front gate.

In a week, you would take to the field alone. Now old enough, you would mount the same worn tractor and plow the same field, letting it lay fallow for next season.