musical lives, remembered in story & sound

Lois Short -- 5. A poem

Untitled Poem
By Lois Short
(Transcribed from a video of Lois reciting the poem, at the Highlander Center)

When I was a boy, way back on the farm,
We was always desperate poor
We slept on padding made of shuds
Laid down on the puncheon floor
And what we et, was what we growed,
We had no cakes nor pies
And the clothes  I wore was my pa’s old clothes,
Cut down for to fit my size
Pa was a strapping great big man
 a pushing 6 foot three
Why his clothes would’ve wrapped around
To fit 3 boys bigger than me
But maw, she take her scissors, needle and thread
She’d cut and sew and patch
Take out here, put in there
Till she made all the pieces match
Pa toiled and labored from dawn to dark.
But the two ends never met
No matter how hard he struggled, it seems,
We was always deep in debt
Sometimes he’d get discouraged and say,
Hard times’ll just never stop
But ma she’d hug him and say,
Next year we’re certain to raise a crop
And then one year, I remember it well
There come all this hail
It whooped our corn and cotton too
And we didn’t raise half a bale.
Ma says to pa, that youngin there
Is naked as a worm
It’ll be your wedding suit
If he goes to school this term
Now I reckon that was the prettiest suit
That was ever seen or made
All the buttons was genuine pearl,
And the suit was edged with braid
That was the suit my pa had on,
When proud and strong and young
The preacher married him and ma
And the congregation sung,
Ma took the suit from the old hair trunk
And then, “I can’t,” she said
But pa put his arms around her waist,
And told her go ahead
With her eyes a brimming full of tears,
She started to cut and rip
She never stopped till the job was done
Right down to the final snip
What did I care if the kids all laughed
When they saw how I was dressed
When they said I looked old-fashioned like
In my britches, and coat and vest
Now what did I care if my cut-down clothes
Didn’t look grand and fine
I knowed in my heart that nary a kid
Had a ma and pa like mine