One summer morning I woke up
And much to my surprise,
I didn’t smell the coffee brewing;
I went down—and could not believe my eyes;
There mama sat, in her Sunday best
With gloves, her purse and hat –
Then pa came in –and he’s dressed up too,
What could I make of that!
He said “The team is hitched to go”
Mama said “I’m ready too,
I just need to give young sis a list
Of things for her to do”
My eyes were wide; I took the list
That mama wrote for me;
I was to go and gather eggs,
And give the hens some feed;
I was to take some jars from the pantry shelf,
Some applesauce and beets,
And there was bread and butter that
My brother and I could eat.
”He’s got his own chores,” Papa said,
And “You have got your own,
Don’t want to hear about no fussing,
Feuding over some old bone”
“Yessir,” I said, my eyes still on
The list that seemed so long,
Ma said “I want you to make up supper
And we’ll eat when we get home”
“Yes mam,” I answered, feeling fearful,
They’d never gone away before;
Mama gave me a kiss and off they went
Out through the kitchen door.
I fixed tea for Bud and milk for me,
And got out bread and jelly,
I ate a lot of fresh baked bread
To satisfy my belly.
Then Bud went out to tend the pigs
And led the cows to pasture,
Then he went out to sow the seed
That Pa said he should master.
With mama’s basket, I gathered eggs,
And fed the hens some mash,
Mama sells the eggs in town,
That’s how she gets some cash.
I cleaned the eggs like mama did,
And laid them down in straw,
I swept the kitchen and the yard,
It wasn’t hard at all.
I brought up applesauce and beets,
And then thought I’d bake a cake;
I followed mama’s recipe
And put it in to bake,
From the smokehouse I cut a slice
Of ham and chopped it up,
Then in a pot I put runner beans
And carrots, ‘bout a cup,
Midday my brother came to eat
More mama’s bread, and butter,
Then I tidied up the kitchen,
So there wasn’t any clutter.
‘Bout supper time it all was done,
And I had the table set,
When we heard the wagon wheels,
Bud said “That’s them, I bet”.
Oh, pa and mama praised us both
And said we’d done them proud,
They ate the supper that I made,
And Pat said that he allowed
He’d left some room to try the cake,
I fixed the plates with pride.
I saw my mama’s eyes fill up;
The first time I’d seen her cry.
Then Papa said “We have some news”
We wondered what it was,
They went to see the bank, today,
And the reason was, because,
He said they’d paid the mortgage off,
The farm was free and clear.
Bud and I stood up and clapped
And gave a rousing cheer.
I really didn’t understand
How much it meant, that day,
Years would pass before I knew,
By now I’m old and gray;
Bud and I stayed on the farm
Long after our folks had died,
And now the land belongs to us;
I feel gratitude, inside;
It could have all been left to Bud,
A lot of people think that way,
But papa left it to me, too,
There was naught anyone could say.
And so I cooked and kept the house
And tended to Ma’s hens;
I sold the eggs to folks in town.
The circle never ends.
–Sandra Lee Smith